Tape RecorderEvery one of us has a soundtrack playing inside our head. It is a recording of the things that people have said to us over the years. For many of us we remember what was said and how it made us feel like it was yesterday. We seem to remember them even though we long to forget them. Many things that were said to us make us sad. Some make us mad.

What does this have to do with fatherhood and leadership in the home?

As a father it is important to remember the role that we play in our children’s lives. In many family situations Mom spends the bulk of the time with the children as Dad goes off to work each day. And when we come home at the end of the day, what do our children hear from us? Do they hear loving words? Do they hear affirming words? Do they hear encouraging words?

Or do they hear us saying words about all of the things that frustrate us about them? Do they hear; “Sit still! Eat your dinner! Clean your room! Do your homework! Don’t talk to your mother like that! When I was your age, I blah, blah, blah . . .”

There is a leadership principle that says that you are to praise publicly and correct privately. I think that may be a corollary to what I am saying to fathers today. Let your words that are said in public be affirming words that build your children up. Don’t seek to criticize in public. There is a time and place for that. And we need to be sure that our expectations for their behavior are age appropriate and realistic.

There is a great quote that has been attributed to Dr. James Dobson about this topic. He is quoted as saying, “Catch your children doing something right, and praise them for it”.

Those words of praise will be indelibly recorded on the soundtrack in their minds. Unfortunately, so will the things we say that wreck our child’s self-esteem.  Let’s be the kind of father that our children want to follow, not the kind of father that orders them to follow.

Do you remember last week as I was kicking off “Fatherhood Friday” I hinted at a little children’s song we used to sing in Children’s Church? Here is a verse from that song that makes me pause and think about the words I say to my children and now my grandchildren.

O be careful little mouth what you say
O be careful little mouth what you say
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little mouth what you say


 Photo credit: Nixdorf / / CC BY-SA

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I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.