Just getting through the day without a major catastrophe can seem like a miracle.
Couple that with the overwhelming responsibility that we have to provide, protect, equip, and encourage our kids, and you could find yourself paralyzed with fear.
Aside from being indifferent towards the task that lies ahead, there is really only one option available to us as fathers…to become diligent students.
It Takes a Catalyst
Take a minute and think about the circumstances that drove you to want to learn more about being a dad.
Was it the first ultrasound or the first time you held your child?
Maybe it was the first time that you realized that your upbringing had some major flaws.
For some, it was the harsh reality of losing a child and the consequent shortcomings that plagued you afterwards.
In fact, the loss of a child was recently played out in the new Courageous film that just opened in theaters.
Without giving up too many details, the film centered on a group of police officers (who were also fathers and friends) that were impacted by the loss of one of their daughters.
The loss had several consequences, but for one in particular, there was a profound call of attention to his inadequacies as a dad. Consequently, he was compelled to dig deep in to what it truly meant to be a father.
While the movie’s circumstances may have been drastic in comparison to most, the result was pretty common:
- He was first driven to contemplate his effectiveness as a dad.
- He began to study (both biblical and secular) what effective fatherhood looked like.
- He began to teach those close to him.
Although all the steps are important, it was the decision to teach that was particularly interesting to me.
Teach in Order to Learn
There is one universal truth in the process of teaching. The one doing the teaching will often learn more than those being taught.
Without fail, this has been the consistent outcome for me as well.
Whether I’m writing an academic article or teaching a parenting class, the task of being accountable to others pushes me to learn and communicate effectively.
As one author stated:
“When learning, we can fool ourselves into believing we have a complete grasp of an idea before we really understand it. If we can do a couple problems, we think we’re set; however, we might have only seen such easy problems that we didn’t hit the boundary of our understanding. Teaching removes this possibility of self-deceit. More accurately, your would-be students will remove it. They’ll ask the questions above, along with all sorts of ‘What ifs’ you won’t be able to handle without mastery of what you’re teaching. It’s being forced to grapple with these challenging questions, and figuring the answers out for yourself so you can explain them to others, that make teaching such a powerful tool for cementing your understanding of a subject” (Richard Rusczyk, The Art of Problem Solving).
Although you will never reach complete mastery of fatherhood, trying to relay an idea or a concept to another dad will definitely require you to hone your “dad skills”.
Even if it takes looking foolish once in a while, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you adapt to the challenge of extending your knowledge to another.
Just Be Purposeful
You may not be thinking about writing a parenting book or entering the lecture circuit, but your dedication to learning is unbelievably important.
And, as you begin to teach others what you know, something revolutionary begins to take place. You become very aware of your shortcomings and your areas of strength.
More importantly, you become better at teaching the audience that really matters…your kids.
Does this resonate with you?
Maybe you have some first-hand knowledge of how you’ve grown through teaching?
Teach us what you know in the comments section below…you’ll be better for it!