Dad = Teacher
You may not see yourself as a teacher. Maybe you don’t know much about history, and you may or may not have enjoyed school. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t a teacher, because academics are only a small part of the equation. Every part of your life contains some elements that you can and should be teaching to your children when the right time comes. All that you need to capitalize on this is:
- Time spent together. (Can’t teach if you aren’t there.)
- Alertness for lessons to teach. (Don’t live on auto-pilot.)
- Boldness to actually talk about it. (Don’t be passive.)
- Patience to go through the process. (It takes a lot longer.)
You don’t have to know any magical formulas. All you have to know is just what you do each day – teach them that. The key is to invite your kids to watch and participate, and to explain what you are doing. That’s it! Invite and explain. What should a Dad be teaching his kids? There are many things, and here is a list of a few of them.
Teach them practical things. Building things, fixing things. Remember that it was not uncommon throughout the generations for the kids to basically grow up working with/for their dad in the family business. This allowed the father to teach his kids practical tips about his profession, as well as anything else he cared to share. Things are different now, so we have to be more purposeful. If you follow me on Facebook you know that right now we are in a season of construction projects, big and small, and the kids are involved to some extent with all of them. Sometimes they even surprise you. Luke was able to help me with drawing lines for cutting the plywood for some shelves we built. He really enjoyed it, and he was learning the concept of self-reliance – if we need something, we’ll build it. But even if you don’t have a need to build big projects with a SkilSaw, you can still teach about the same concepts. Today Bekah asked me to fix her Hello Kitty clock that was broken. Although I would have preferred to throw it away and buy a new one, she really wanted to try to fix it. So we got out a screwdriver, took it apart, and put it back together. I explained which way to turn screws, and showed how the batteries connected to the mechanism. I showed her the part that was cracked, and we tried to figure out how to solve the problem. And what do you know, we fixed it! Other practical things that you can teach them include, well, everything that you do. It is the parents’ job to teach them to clean up the kitchen, wash dishes, do laundry, cut the grass, weed the flowerbeds, take out the trash, etc, etc, etc. A skillful dad will be able to work on these mundane chores with his kids, teaching as he goes.
Besides those practical things, think about ways that you can be involved with your kids in other areas of life.
Teach them about music that you enjoy. My kids can all sing along with Yellow Submarine, not because it is particularly uplifting, but because I like teaching them about music from previous decades that I have enjoyed.
Teach them about nature. Participate in their wonder as you discover robin eggs or a big bug. Spend Saturday morning at a Nature Center in your area. Go fishing with them. Teach them what poison ivy looks like and how to skip rocks.
Teach them about interpersonal skills. When you are at the store and one of the kids makes a comment, take time later to teach them a more tactful way to have said it. Teach them how to shake hands. How to politely introduce themselves. Walk them through how to handle a rude customer behind you in line, or someone who is not being helpful.
Teach them about your past. When it is relevant, tell them stories about when you were a kid or when your grandparents were. This ties them in to something bigger than themselves, and gives them perspective on how things used to be.
Teach them about money. You handle money frequently, so take time to teach them how it comes and goes.
God. A friend of mine who I respect very much has kids who often tell me how much their dad reads his Bible. How he always starts his day out this way. To quote Braveheart, “Do it. And let them see you do it.” They should see you modeling the good habits, and then you should take the next step of telling them about what you are doing and why.
Academics. I put this last to emphasize that mostly I’m talking about teaching your kids about life, not about academics. But, academics are important too. At very least, they provide an opportunity to learn about perseverance, diligence, and impulse control. (Studying when you’d rather be watching TV.) At our home we spend a lot of time and a fair amount of money in order to teach our kids about academics, and especially about history. I want them to know more than the teachers will have time to teach them, so we are always working on one area or another to supplement the awesome teachers at their school. Our ultimate goal is to instill a love of reading and of learning.
Ultimately, a good Dad is a Servant Leader. Servant Leadership involves investing in those around you.
- Succession planning.
These marks of a good leader are also the marks of a good dad. A dad who is a teacher of his kids. And remember, if they don’t learn it from you, who will they learn it from?
I challenge you dads to take some time to think about ways to teach your kids. How can you fit it in with your existing obligations and commitments? How can you make it a normal part of your life?