I’ve had a lot of guys ask me about the phases of a father. What are the phases a father goes through? My sons are now all in their mid-to-late 20s, so my position in their life has changed since when they were infants.
Let me walk you through what I believe are four phases of fatherhood. I’ve completed phases one and two. I’m in phase 3 now. I have not yet reached the fourth phase. Here are the 4 phases of fatherhood.
4 Phases of Fatherhood
Phase 1: Father FIDELIS (Birth to 12)
Fidelis is Latin for faithful. Two words embody this phase—show up.
Phase 2: Father FIGURE (13-25)
Be a model your kids can imitate because they are watching you and they will remember.
PHASE 3: Father FRIEND (26-35)
This is where a good dad enjoys the fruits of good parenting through Phases I and II. Your adult children determine what kind of relationship they want to have with you.
Phase 4: Father Forever (36 and up)
This is where a father watches his legacy unfold as his children raise his grandchildren to serve the Lord.
4 Phases of Fatherhood: Which Phase Are You In Right Now?
Phase 1: Father Fidelis (Birth to 12)
Phase 1 happens from about birth to about 10ish years old. As you know Fidelis is Latin for faithful. This is the father who shows up. The keyword in this phase is PRESENCE.
- You are present in the life of your bride in front of your children.
- You are present to change diapers.
- You are present between the hours of 5PM to 9PM to love on your kids and enjoy dinner
This is the ministry of presence. There’s an incarnational component to fathering.
Phase 2: Father Figure (13-24)
Around preteen age, 11 to 20ish, when your kids are in the home, they’re going through adolescence. Their brains are maturing. They’re trying to go out on their own and do some things and learn who they are as a person. This is what I call the Father Figure Phase.
The keyword here is EXAMPLE. You are a figure in their life. You are a role model. Instead of saying, “Because I said so…” You’re starting to show them how to be good humans by your example.
- How are you loving their mother?
- How are you serving your community?
- Are you giving your resources to benefit others and benefit Kingdom causes you care about?
- What are you doing as a man?
Football coach Chuck Noll once said, “What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.”
Phase 3: Father Friend (26-35)
As your kids leave their teen years, they enter the space from 20-ish to like 35-ish. When your children leave your house, they decide who will be in their circle and who will be in their life.
The Father Friend Phase is the ADVISOR or partner for your sons and daughters. They are allowing you into your life. You can’t mandate them to spend time with you. Hopefully, you’ve established a relationship where they want to be around you.
Phase 4: Father Forever (36 and up)
Phase 4 is the Father Forever Phase. The keyword here is LEGACY. This is the phase where you will reap all of the benefits (or cursing) of life from how you handed the first three phases.
Galatians 6:7-8 say, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
This is the reaping phase; where you either sit back with regret over children who don’t want to be around you, or grandchildren who you never see. My wife and I have determined we are not going to move out of our area because all three of our children are within a one-hour drive from us. We are committed to being here and continuing with our deep roots. We hope to enjoy the fruits of our legacy.
Which phase are you in right now? What adjustments can you make?
Portions of this post originally appeared on Jim’s Podcast Men in the Arena.