|Tip #7a: Give them your undivided attention and avoid multitasking.|
By Fr Michael Sliney, LC, and Matt Williams
Like God the
Father, a dad should give his children a constant and
stable love, providing what is good for his family unconditionally
(“What father among you, if his son asks for bread,
would give him a stone?” Luke 11:11). This means providing
what the children need, not necessarily what they want. It
also means protecting them from what is harmful.
cannot model God’s love if he is not present in
his children’s lives as God is constantly present in all
of ours. So modeling the love of God the Father
also means being there, day in and day out. Sometimes
the ordinary days are the most important in the long
With these thoughts in mind, here is a list of
practical tips for being a great dad. With the generous
help of Matt Williams, we once again interviewed moms, dads,
and their children to help compile the following list:
1. Be Faithful
to Your Spouse: The best gift you can give your
kids is to have a great marriage. Love your wife
unconditionally, openly and affectionately in front of your children.
a. Support her decisions and never openly undermine, criticize, or ridicule
any discipline decision given by her in front of your
b. Be a unified front with her ensuring that
she is always on the same page in any decision
involving the kids.
c. Treat a child’s disrespect of their
mother as a serious offense.
2. Be the Spiritual Head of
the Family: A family’s faith has to come primarily from
the dad. No matter how holy their mother is, it
will be to no avail if you are not strong
a. Live your faith openly in front of your
children and teach/encourage them to do the same.
b. Offer daily
prayers and sacrifices for your children.
c. Set spiritual goals for
each of your children (reinforce a particular virtue).
d. Go to
church and pray with your family (even if you are
e. Read Scripture to learn about God the Father
so as to echo his paternal qualities.
3. Separate Work from Family
Life: There is always more work to do. When you
come home from work, you should separate from that world
as much as possible.
a. Make an effort to come home
at a reasonable hour and have a family dinner.
down email and Blackberry from Friday through Sunday or while
at sporting events, school plays, etc. (be engaged in what
they are doing).
c. Be willing to spend significant time with
your kids at night.
4. Be the Guardian of Your Daughter’s Virtue:
Daughters will often marry someone like their dad. How you
treat your daughter, encourage her to dress, etc., is often
the measure of her virtue until her adolescence. She will
gain confidence from her father and learn how guys are
supposed to treat her.
a. Honor your wife in front of
b. Go on Father/Daughter date nights (do what they
c. Leave girl things to girls: let your wife
give her advice on girlfriends, gossip, cliques, and other feminine
d. Give as much attention to your daughters as to
your sons: this will directly impact her purity down the
road (i.e. , no attention from her father will leave
a girl looking for it from other men).
5. Be an Example
for Your Children: No matter how much you tell your
children what to do, it will have no effect unless
you practice what you preach. What you do is carefully
analyzed and assimilated.
a. Live by the standards you set for
your children (especially as far as books, movies, and other
b. Be careful who you spend time with: your friends’
behavior will influence them as well (a side note: develop
friendships with other dads to share experiences).
c. Avoid excess: drinking,
TV, computer, etc.
d. Be an example of chivalry, ethics,
honor, good language, and table manners.
6. Be Your Children’s Best Friend
and Advisor: As a dad you should be approachable, someone
your kids can turn to for whatever they need.
interested in what your kids are doing and even get
to know their friends. Reach them where they are so
as to help them.
b. Get your kids involved in work
(lawn, cleaning car…) using it as an opportunity for formation.
c. Your advice really matters to your kids (take the time
to explain key moral principles to your kids).
d. Seek to
understand your kids and later to be understood by them
(silence and listening are an important part of fatherhood).
treat every child the same (be sensitive to their differences).
f. Be generous in expressing pride and approval to your children
(we love you, we’re proud of you, etc.).
g. Set clear
expectations for your children.
h. Don’t make promises you cannot keep.
i. Give equal affection to all your children especially your sons
(If a guy gets plenty of affection from his father,
he will grow up to be an affectionate and compassionate
7. Be Present in Your Kids’ Lives: You cannot achieve any
of this if you are not spending quantity time and
quality time with your family.
a. Give them your undivided
attention and avoid multitasking: if you are going to talk
to you kids or do something with them focus completely
b. Spend one-on-one time with each of your children:
don’t have favorites (spend equal time & effort on each
c. Try to take vacations that allow you to spend
lots of time together: long road trips, camping, etc.