I remember when I was younger and single and I asked myself the hypothetical question “Would I be okay with my daughter marrying a man like me?” That’s a pretty tough question to ask. You can only imagine being 24-years-old and trying to convince myself that I was good enough kind of man for the daughter I might have someday.
As I got older, it became clear to me what kind of men women date, and what kind of men they marry. Having a shredded 6-pack is nice when trying to get a woman to go out with you, but it takes a lot more than a nice abs to find a good wife. Now, as I am about to become a father for the first time, I find myself again thinking about the kind of man I want to be and the responsibilities that I will have to my family. It’s up to me to live up to those responsibilities and set an example for my son.
As the Baby Boomer generation ages and retires, generations X and Y will be the examples for today’s youth and generations yet to come. And it’s not enough to be successful role models in technology and business. Just as important, we must set great examples in our local community, family and personal relationships.
So here is the list of things that I believe men are responsible for providing for their family:
1. Provide security.
- Financial Security – Knowing there will be food on the table, a roof over your family’s head, and money saved for a rainy day. Being able to provide the important things in life, like retirement, a down payment for a house, your kid’s education, their wedding, etc.
- Physical Security — Having a plan and protections in place for natural disasters, home security and emergencies.
2. Create an environment for growth.
- Look for an environment where your kids get to be around friends that are a good influence and whose family shares your values.
- Create an environment where both your wife and you have an outlet to speak your minds, work together to resolve conflict, and work as a team.
3. Make church and prayer a priority.
- I think we’re living in an era where it’s considered controversial to discuss church or your faith. I’m a big believer that faith and biblical teaching plays a very big role in knowing that everything will be all right. A real man isn’t afraid to admit that he can’t do it alone; he needs guidance from his pastor and strength from God. Rather than forcing my beliefs on my children, I believe what it says in Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
- Pray as a family and thank God for what you have. It will teach your children gratitude (and keep you grateful as well).
4. Schedule regular family time.
- We grew up in Iran and the only day we had off from work was Friday. Friday there is like Sunday here in America. My father was a very hard working man who left every morning at 5:00 am and got home at 8:30 pm. We often wouldn’t see him except on Fridays. He was very predictable on Fridays. Every Friday we woke up and went to Shahanshahi Park — then we went to church. Afterwards, we had lunch with the entire family and then came home and watched a movie. As a child, I needed that stability of those Friday rituals. No matter how busy my dad was during the week, I knew that on Friday, he was ours all day.
5. Bring the fun in
- Be spontaneous. Take the family on a spur-of-the-moment trip. Bring home surprise gifts. Wake-up your little ones in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to open a present from Santa. Be creative; imagination is the key to keeping the family fire and fun burning. Fun is a key to strong families. Play games, tell stories, laugh, play sports. Let your kids into your world and let them bring you into theirs. As adults we forget how much fun it can be to use our imaginations and build a fort out of pillows and blankets. As you help your kids to grow up, they will help you stay young.
6. Have an open line of communication.
- I’m a firm believer that if your kids don’t share their thoughts and concerns with you, they will share with someone else. I read a book recently on family that explained that what each member of the household needs daily from the man is a few minutes of his undivided attention to discuss their day and thoughts and feelings. There’s an unbreakable bond that forms in those moments of conversation and sharing.
7. Put Mom first
- Kids need to understand that your wife is your number one priority. Kids are here because of the love and commitment of the husband and wife. Let your kids see you put your wife first and you will earn their respect and teach them by example how to have a great marriage.
8. Make time for home cooking and family mealtime.
- Home-cooked meals at the dinner table keep the family together. There’s nothing like a house that smells like good food. It’s the best perfume in the world. Cooking in the kitchen and barbecuing in the back yard is something that the whole family can do together.
9. Share hobbies.
- I attended a function recently dedicated to the events that took place on 9/11 that totally amazed me. A friend of mine, Amour and his family, were involved in a unbelievable performance with a group of 140 musicians and singers. I loved watching him, his wife, and two kids up there singing together. It’s these kinds of experiences that create a connection within the family that will never be broken. So whatever hobby you’re passionate about, make it something that your family can do together.
10. Be active.
- Kids today are so into their video games, TV and the internet that they don’t go outside and play and get exercise. So take your family on a hike. Go jogging or ride your bikes together. Play sports with your kids. That’s how dads make sure that the whole family stays healthy, fit and active. It also means that you are more likely to be around for your kids and wife later in life because you will be healthier too.