8 Ways Dads Can Lead from the Heart

lead from the heart

Dads have an important job description as they lead from the heart – to paint an accurate image of God the Father by the brush of their example.

I’m sure most of what I have to say applies equally to moms but today I am thinking about dads in their role as leaders in the home.

The foundation of your kids’ emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity is rooted in the certainty of being your beloved child.  One way dads can image the Father is by affirming their children as God the Father did for Jesus on the day of His Baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Here are eight practical ways for dads to lead from the heart and affirm your kids.

#1 Lead From the Heart With Spoken Words: 

At any given moment you can speak a word of encouragement, “Hey, Thomas, I’ve noticed how positive you’ve been with your younger siblings. I really appreciate it and so do they. Well done.” Verbal affirmation doesn’t have to be elaborate, just make sure it’s sincere.

#2 Lead From the Heart With Quality Time: 

Busyness is a modern-day-curse. What you do with your free time communicates what matters most to you. Your kids know how busy you are, giving them quality time speaks a loud message of love to their hearts. Kids spell love T.I.M.E. (thank you Steve Wood).

#3 Lead From the Heart With Lunch Bag Notes:

Take out an index card and write something like, “Five Incredible Qualities I See in You: 1) You always work hard at soccer practice, 2) You clean up after you make a mess in the kitchen, 3) You use your words to bless others, 4) You have a deep peace in your heart when things are stressful, 5) You are generous with your video games.” Full disclosure: I learned this idea from Author, Anthony Parisi.

#4 Lead From the Heart With Surprise Gifts: 

Pick up a gift for no reason other than to say, “I was thinking of you.” The gift doesn’t have to be expensive. A carton of chocolate milk is one of my favorites which I can pick up at any gas station for less than $2. The art of gift-giving may not come naturally to you, but somebody in your life can probably help.

#5 Lead From the Heart by Honoring Them Publicly: 

This takes a little awareness to recognize an appropriate moment. When your child is within ear shot, speak up to others about some virtue or another that you see in him/her. Some parents withhold praise, especially in public. Proverbs encourages it, “Not with your own mouth, but let others praise you,” Parents are in a great place to praise their kids. Modesty will guard against exaggeration, but simple and sincere words, spoken in public, can build a child’s confidence and sense of dignity.

#6 Lead From the Heart With Physical Affection: 

This is easier when the kids are young but the need to express physical affection never diminishes. Teenagers give the appearance that they aren’t interested and some days it just won’t work but it’s important to keep trying. In the moment, a quick love-tap on the knee with, “You’re awesome,” goes a long way. If hugging makes you squirm (or your child!), a hand on the shoulder can communicate the same message.

#7 Lead From the Heart by Attending Their Heart: 

It is a powerful experience for children, when someone in authority seeks to understand their feelings. It isn’t what happens to your kids that matters but the meaning they attach to it that makes the most impact. Creating a safe place for your child to process the emotional roller-coaster of life is incredibly validating. You may not agree with their perspective, but understanding how they feel and loving them for their sincere heart deepens the bond between you.

#8 Lead From the Heart by Celebrating Good Decisions: 

Much of parenting is about helping your kids to learn how to make good decisions. In fact, if you succeed in this area, you have given your child one of the best gifts, “a wise and discerning heart.” When your kids make a smart decision, celebrate it! Honour the small decisions in the moment, “Sarah, I saw you outside. The boys wanted you to play basketball but you decided to come in and finish your homework. That was a hard decision, but you made the right choice, well done.” Make a big deal of the bigger decisions. Propose a toast at the family meal or take everyone out for ice-cream to acknowledge their milestone.

The less there is of something in the world, the more valuable it becomes. Affirmation is valuable because many of us live without it. Dads let affirmation fill your house and watch your kids soar.

This article originally appeared here.

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Brett Powell
Brett Powell serves as the Archbishop’s Delegate of Development and Ministries for the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Before this position, Brett worked in parishes, as an executive with Catholic Christian Outreach, and as Director of an Archdiocesan Development Office. His experience has accumulated to 25 years of ministry. Brett and his wife, Andrea, have eight children.