Being a father is hard work. Real hard. And anyone who says otherwise probably isn’t doing a very good job at his responsibility. A good father makes all the difference in a child’s life. And it is his role in shaping his children that will impact not only his family for generations to come, but society as well.

With Father’s Day just around the corner, take some time to read through a list of tips on what a father should do and how he should act. Here are fifteen things a “good” father does, listed in no particular order:

1 – Spends time with them
You’ll be amazed just how quickly the time passes, and you will no longer have the opportunity to be around your children. Sometimes we get caught up in our own priorities, we neglect to the chance to spend time with our kids. But chances are many of us will never realize just how important those years were until it’s too late. Don’t live to regret lost time at the expense of expediency, for being selfish and doing your own thing. Your priorities can surely wait.

2 – Shares responsibilities with Mother
You are teaching your children what a father is supposed to do by how you act. Your children will emulate you, for good or bad. If you never help around the house, your children will believe that is how a father is supposed to act. Help out your spouse (and your kids) by sharing in the hard work at home.

3 – Gets involved in their education
If education isn’t important to you, then it’s not likely to be important to your children. Help them out by teaching a subject if they are homeschooled or read to them if they attend school. Even fifteen minutes a day will go a long way in communicating to them just important education is.

4 – Plays with them
Children want their fathers to be involved in their lives. Take advantage of the opportunities when your children ask you to play with them. Granted, they will inevitably ask at the most inopportune time, when you are tired or engaged in some other activity. But make every effort to be with them—even in the simple or mundane things—and they will never forget it. The last thing you would want is a child to grow up with memories of an absent father.

5 – Teaches them the things of the Lord
This is not simply a “good idea.” It is, rather, a command—a divine imperative. Parents are instructed to teach their children the commands of the Lord continually (Deut 6:7). And by doing so, we are given hope that our effort will not be in vain. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

6 – Teaches them to be good citizens of a society
An orderly society is incumbent upon good citizens. Even when we disagree with our elected leaders, we must remember that all governments—even the bad ones—are instituted by God and its laws must be obeyed (Rom. 13:1).

7 – Loves them
The greatest example of this love is how our heavenly Father loves us despite how broken we are. God tells us to obey Him, yet we fail to do this daily. However, in spite of this, He loves us anyway. How great is that? God does not say to us, “Love me and I will love you.” Instead, He says, “I love you despite the fact you don’t love me or keep my commands.” He loves us unconditionally. That’s how we must love our children and show that to them. It’s not good enough to be happy with them when they obey us (although that’s important). We must love them and show love to them even when they are being “unlovely.”

8 – Teaches them self-control and patience
We live in a self-gratifying, everything-instant society. But when we are not taught to be patient or to wait for things, it inevitably leads to selfishness and fosters of spirit that says, “I want what I want and I want it NOW!” And that, mind you, will lead to trouble.

9 – Is patient with them
Sometimes you just wanna pull out your hair and scream. Got it. It’s hard to be patient with someone when you are at your wit’s end. But just as our heavenly Father is patient with us (time after time after time . . . ), so we too must learn to be patient with our children when they miss the mark.

10 – Tells them no (limits their exposure to harmful things)
Our heavenly Father gave a set of standards by which to live. In so doing, He was telling us the parameters by which to live in order to lead holy, upright, and happy lives. God does not permit us unfettered freedom to what whatever our little (corrupted) hearts desire. That, of course, would only lead to our ruin and hurt us. Sometimes it’s hard to say “no” to our children, but by limiting what we give them or permit them access to, we are setting safe boundaries that will ultimately bring them the most happiness. So, it’s okay to say “no” to our children.

11 – Models good behavior, sets the example
If we merely say one thing and do another, it ruins our example. The greatest lesson we can teach our children is by how we act. They “see” this picture clearer than any lesson you might tell them. Your actions truly will speak louder than words.

12 – Teaches them independence
“Failure to launch” is a term made popular to denote children who just won’t grow up and leave their parents’ house. Sometimes children stay at home longer for practical or legitimate reasons, but the standard should be that a father teaches and encourages his children to become self-reliant at an early age. Prolonging adolescent only perpetuates the problem of immaturity and will ultimately hurt the child in the long run.

13 – Disciplines them
This might be one of the hardest to accomplish. No one wants to see his child suffer, but sometimes it will be for his or her good. We all (or most of us anyway) will permit a doctor to inject a child with a needle, causing that child momentary pain, but the vaccination the doctor is imputing is for a greater good—to keep the child healthy and free of disease.

14 – Agrees with Mom in front of them
Children will naturally run from one parent to another in order to receive a better answer. However, if mom and dad are not united, then it breaks down the authority of that parent. If mom says no, back her up and remain firm with that answer. Be united with your spouse so your children will see that example.

15 – Saves money for them
Leaving an inheritance is not only a good idea, it is biblical. The Scriptures say a “good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Prov. 13:22). Included in saving for your children is also the responsibility to teach them fiscal responsibility, which includes giving to God and helping others in need.

If you don’t do all fifteen—consistently anyway—don’t worry too much about that. As long as you continually strive to a better father each day, you are well on your way to being an awesome (and biblical) dad!

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