Mar 29, 2012

A Big Dose Of Cat’s In The Cradle

Dads, now that we've gotten to know each other, I’m going to drop a big fat neutron bomb on you today.  Are you ready for some RealityBall?

In Championship Fathering, Carey Casey mentions an interesting study…
The Swiss government tracked families, following church attendance by fathers and mothers as well as their children’s attendance later in life. The study found that no matter how faithfully a mother attended church—regularly or occasionally—there was only a 2 percent chance of her children regularly attending church as adults if the father had not attended as well.  Amazingly, if the father went to church—regardless of how much Mom did—the likelihood of the child attending church as a grown-up increased to 60 to 75 percent!
Read that over a couple times.  Let it sink in.  Let it wash over you like a wave of radiation tweaking every fiber of consciousness in your body.

In the professional world, you’re not supposed to take a study on church attendance and apply it, oh say, to going fishing or attitudes towards women or financial wisdom.  But in the real world, this study tells it like it is – what dad does has a PROFOUND influence on the children.  I love my mother deeply AND I agree that what my dad believed in, stood for, and did on a consistent basis has had a much stronger influence on my life than my mom’s actions. 

Dad, are you ready to own this?  Do you realize your powerful influence over the destiny of your children?  This is a big dose of Cat’s In The Cradle, isn’t it.

But I’m not playing this up to dramatically lay a guilt trip on you.  I want to encourage you and I want you to celebrate your unrivaled influence on your child.  Your children are watching your every step… and they’re following you!

If you think your political views are important and relevant, tell your children about them.  And explain how you arrived at your position and how your views can shape a better world for your children.  Kids as young as 10 need to start learning how you see your socio-political world.

If you’ve learned some financial wisdom – either for the long term or short term – share those nuggets with your kids.  Explain to them when you’ve been financially distressed (and we all have) and what you’re doing to keep your finances in “a happy place”.  Give them tools (like a budget) to help them manage their allowance or part-time job income.

What are your views on the social issues of the day?  Have you had a thoughtful conversation with your kids about the Occupy Movement, the Tea Party, or the claims of “global climate change”?  Great topics for dads to discuss and shape your child’s thinking.

What about younger kids?  Dads, can you influence them, too?  How about end the evening by saying, “Let’s spend a few minutes together cleaning up your room”.  On Saturday morning, ask your elementary-age child, “Who can we help today?” or “What can we do to cheer someone up today?”  Have some suggestions ready, but allow them to brainstorm.  Focus on people readily known to your child.  Bring them in on the practical steps of expressing the value of helping others.

I’ve been very serious about being a better dad for a long time.  I’m committed to the heavy lifting it takes to be a positive and dynamic force in my children’s lives.  Still, when I first heard of the “Swiss Church Study”, it rattled my cage – evoking an even greater sense of urgency and consistency from me.  I’d love to know what it does for you.  #SoundOff on the IGTBTD Facebook page.

Clark H Smith