Dads, Step into Your Hero Role — Kids Need It

Three reasons this is so critical as you raise your children in today's challenging environment

by Meg Meeker, MD | Updated 30 May 2017 at 2:19 PM

My new book, “Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need,” was recently released, and I have absolutely loved hearing all the stories that have been pouring in about dads who are committed to being the hero their family deserves and needs.

On the latest episode of my Parenting Great Kids podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with my friend and the quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers, Philip Rivers. He’s a strong man whose priorities are of faith, family and football, in that order.

We sat down to talk about his role as a father of eight children, his career in the NFL, and how he and his wife work as a team to make it all work.

While it would be easy to put life on autopilot, I loved hearing about how intentional Philip is about being present for his children, and making sure he exhibits the behaviors and habits to them that the expects from them.

Philip strives every day to embody what it means to be a hero dad. And for those of you who are making the same daily choices to show up for your family, here are three things to remind yourself of regularly.

1.) Children define "hero" much differently than most men do. As a pediatrician, one of the big things that I KNOW to be true from my many years of practice is how children perceive their parents — particularly, how they view their fathers.

Related: The Secrets of Raising Happy Children

Listening to kids and then talking to their fathers, I can see a huge disconnect. Fathers see themselves in one way, but their child sees them in another way entirely. If I ask most fathers if they feel like a hero, they normally say, "No, of course not. I've never really done anything brave or heroic."

But if you ask a child who her hero is, she will most likely say, "My dad!"

To a small child, his father is larger than life. Men, you must understand that your children view you very differently than you view yourself.

2.) Never take time with family for granted. If you get a chance to listen to my episode with Philip Rivers, you'll hear that this is a huge focus for him. Family time is so important. Remember that being a father brings long-term joy — is it really worth staying those extra few hours at work when you could be home with your wife and kids?

Related: Heartbroken Mom on Terror: 'We Are Better Than This'

Don't let your identity get wrapped up in a job. Your work won't sit at your bedside at the end of your life telling you what you meant to it — but your kids and family members will. When you make a conscious effort to invest in family, the payoff is enormous.

3.) Know that whatever you do with your children is magnified. Because you are larger than life in your child's eyes, whatever you do with them, whatever time you spend with them, is magnified in their minds. For example, if you took them to the park once a month when they were small, when they are grown up and looking back over their childhood, their mind perceives that you took them to the park three to five times a month.

Related: When the Words of a Dad Mean Everything

In a child's eyes, time with you, Dad, becomes magnified. The time you invest with your children has a far bigger impact on them than it does on you. Remember that.

Most all dads have what it takes to be a hero dad — they just don't know it. And it is often the small things that are more crucial and game-changing than the big ones in the eyes of their children.

Dads, the things that your kids will often remember the most can easily be the things you take for granted. The great news is that you get to choose every day what kind of dad you are going to be.

Choose to be a hero!

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the new book, "Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need" (Regnery Publishing, May 2017), as well as a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.

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