Responsibilities of a father: know how to SERVE

Last month we celebrated Father’s Day. This holiday is a great time for dads to reassess their fathering. But, any month is a good time to consider how you can assess your current level of service and find ways to improve.

Here are three simple questions you can use to get yourself (or the dads you serve) started on an annual assessment.

  • What are my strengths as a dad that I should keep doing?
  • What are my challenges as a dad that I should seek to improve?
  • What advice can I use that can help me double down on my strengths or address my challenges?

It’s that third question that I want to speak to in this post.

In my role at National Fatherhood Initiative, I try to keep an eye out for advice that can help dads leverage their strengths or address their challenges.

One of my favorite givers of such advice is Eric Barker who writes the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree. The advice he gives is not only spot on, it’s grounded in science. And, he makes his blog enjoyable to read.

In a recent post, Eric identified five things—which dads can remember by the mnemonic SERVE—that can make any dad become an awesome parent.

  • Self-CareHappy parents make for happy kids. James Baldwin once said: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
  • Emotional IntelligenceYour job is not merely to protect little John Connor until he is old enough to lead the resistance against the evil machines. He needs emotional intelligence to be a good rebel leader. So remember to listen, label, problem-solve, and teach empathy.
  • Rituals: Have family dinners together. Get superhero Grandmom on Zoom.
  • ValuesWithout these your kids are going to be kryptonite to decent human beings. Be the one who sings the storied history of the family dynasty.
  • EmpowerIf you don’t start teaching them to be autonomous at 7, they will be living with you at 37.

I encourage you to share this advice with the dads you serve to help them reassess their fathering.

To learn more about the science behind SERVE—and if you’re clueless about who James Baldwin and John Connor are—click here to read Eric’s post.

This post originally appeared on National Fatherhood Initiative’s Blog.