how to “up your game” as a dad

New River Elementary

I apologize for the late post today. It has something to do with getting up extra early so I could drive to New River Elementary School up in Wesley Chapel.

My friend Lynn Pabst is the principal, and she graciously invited to speak to the Tony Dungy “All-Pro-Dad” chapter that meets at New River once a month. The idea is for dads to have breakfast with their kids, complete a couple of fun activities together, and then listen to some encouraging content that will offer tools for being the best dads they can be.

Today’s encouraging content was me. I shared “10-Tips for New River Elementary School Dads to Up Their Game.” It was modeled, of course, on the “10-Ways to be an All-Pro-Dad” series I helped develop for the All-Pro-Dad on-line magazine.

IMG_3123SOME PEARLS? Here’s a brief outline of what I had to say. I started with the Steve Preston classic, “Stay the course.” Meaning stand firm, hold tight, hang in there! Then I gave the following 10 tips:

  1. Be an Elephant: A long-term study revealed that adolescent elephants sometimes turn dangerously wild when unsupervised. The simple presence of a stable male can make all the difference.
  2. Remember “The teachable moment” can work both ways: Dads with open hearts learn a lot from their children. It’s about taking time, respect, and listening.
  3. Love Your Spouse and nurture the marriage: The very best thing dads can do for their children is to love their mother with enthusiasm and creativity.
  4. Spend more time at eye-level: Literally on the ground, sharing activities, offering full attention, demonstrating real interest.
  5. Model more than you lecture: So you want your child to respect their mother? Respect her yourself. So you want your child to ditch the video games and read more? Do it yourself. This one is huge.
  6. Put yourself in an accountability relationship with another dad (or a small group): We need one another. We need the support and encouragement of other men/dads. We need to be an encouragement to others. Life is a community event.
  7. Resurrect The Family Dinner: And that includes eating without the TV on. Raise your hand if you remember, “conversation….?”
  8.  Remember “the law of diminishing time”: Here’s the short version: One year is 20% of a five-year-old’s life. One year is just 10% of a ten-year-old’s life. One year is only 7% for a 14-year old. Any investment you make in terms of time when your kids are in elementary school is exponentially worthwhile.
  9. Chill: Seriously, dad, take a chill pill and a deep breath. Then enjoy your children. Never, ever, ever leave the house or go to sleep with your last word being in anger.
  10. Always hope; always be faithful; always believe:

And that was where I ended. Always hope; always be faithful; always believe. Why? Because life is good, and being a parent is a most amazing privilege.

“Believe me,” I told them; “I know this by heart.” – DEREK


  1. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”….Too bad that can’t be number 1 in the public school, huh? G


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