The Dad I Want To Be

Lately, I’ve been glancing over at my 13-year-old son and wondering if I’m being the father he really needs me to be. I fear I’m losing touch with who he’s becoming and how to best support him.

As a father of four, I desperately want to help my kids succeed in life, but I often face insecurities about how to actually do that.

I feel the burden of responsibility to understand their emotional needs and give them the support they need, but it’s hard to know where to even start. I didn’t grow up having heart-to-hearts with my dad, so emotion isn’t a language I speak very well.

And the most incriminating part is how passive I am. I tend to just coast along and allow the relentless pace of life to crowd out the intimacy I could be having with my kids.

After a long day at work, it’s so easy to just escape in front of a screen and pay attention to it instead of to my kids. I waste so much time on what doesn’t matter. Whole days can pass by without any heart-felt communication with my kids whatsoever. And when I do talk to them, it’s usually about sports and video games and such; I can hardly call that getting to know them at a heart level.

I fear I’m being lulled into a false sense of security, believing that everything will be OK. But in the pit of my stomach I’m actually scared that one day I’m going to get the terrible news that one of my kids has blown it big time or gotten hurt badly. And if that happens I’ll be kicking myself for my negligence because maybe I could have prevented the pain.

Whole days pass by without any heart-felt communication with my kids. I tend to just coast along and allow the relentless pace of life to crowd out the intimacy I could be having with them.

The funny thing is, I make sure to do the routine maintenance on my vehicle because I know it will cost me a ton later if I don't. God knows I love my kids way more than my stupid minivan, so why am I far less consistent with my kids? Why can't I be better at investing time into building them up? My kids should feel safe enough to tell me anything, but I fear my anger is closing the door. In moments of infuriation, I find myself speaking harshly to them. Afterwards, I always feel the sting of regret, and if an apology is needed, I give one. But I worry that I’m slowly chipping away at the trust they place in me and that my anger is making them feel unsafe to open up and tell me what’s really going on.

I’m conflicted. I have this desire to get to know my kids — to know who they really are and what makes them tick. I desperately want to help them face life successfully, but I am notoriously inconsistent. I struggle with being able to follow through and be intentional about it. This is an issue I face daily.

Being intentional as a father isn't easy. Do you also feel like you’re growing distant from your children? If you leave your name and contact info below, someone on our team will connect with you to hear your story and offer support.