7 Tips for Fathers

Some Father’s Day thoughts from one Lead Dad to other working dads out there.

There are 8 years between my oldest and youngest – 7, 12 and soon to be 15. When I look at this photo, with my father there with me, it was the moment when I was no longer being a father but thinking about what being a father meant. These were my three daughters: what now?

Here’s 7 things I learned in the 7 Father’s Days since that photo.

1) You’re constantly making choices. Many of them won’t matter at all, ever. Some will be horrible, but if they were well intentioned don’t beat yourself up. A few will be the types of decisions that will resonate with your kids. Like the time I took a turtle out our pool and put it in the stream in our backyard. Unabashed hero. (Not so the time I grew exasperated with the Verizon rep selling me a phone for my oldest daughter.)

2) Be present in everything you’re doing. That’s different from being always on, or always there. When you have work, work. When you have family time, put your phone down and focus on that. When you’re doing something for yourself or with your wife, do that as intently as anything else.

3) Let your children see you work. It’s been a gift of Covid for some of us, that ability to work from home at least some of the time. It shows kids what we do, how we do it and why we do it so we can have other things in our lives.

4) Let your children also see you turn away from work for them. If you were in a meeting and someone put another meeting on your calendar, would you abruptly end the first one to join the new one? I draw the same analogy with time with your kids: consider those moments like meetings. Even better, if you know they’re coming, put them in your calendar so your colleagues know what you’re doing.

5) Be a parent at work. Be open about your life as a dad, even more so if you’re a manager. While Lead Dads are natural allies of Working Moms and integral to breaking down the gender stereotypes around care, Dads who publicly calendar their parenting responsibilities normalize being a working parent for all the people around them.

6) Sleep and exercise. Every time I make an excuse to cut out one or the other, I regret it. When I put them back in – shock – I feel better.

7) Be glad. Parenting is like a summer storm in Florida. The most beautiful day can turn into a deluge under which you feel like you’re drowning. Then it stops, the sun comes out ,and you carry on.

Happy Father’s Day!