Photo by Igor Rodrigues on Unsplash
Photo by Igor Rodrigues on Unsplash

5 Ways to Be an Effective Father


I grew up with a dad that was physically and emotionally absent. We have two young sons and I want to be the kind of father that will help them become Godly men.  Do you have any specific suggestions?


First of all, never underestimate the importance of just being there.  Numerous studies tell us that children with fathers present:

Get along better with their peers

Display more social confidence

Adapt to change more easily

Demonstrate better thinking ability

Have increased empathy for others

Score higher on intelligence tests

Here are a few of the “Greatest Hits” of effective dads.

#1  Be Passionate: Love hard.  Let them see your love for Lord, their mom and for them.  Since most fathers are limited in their emotional vocabulary and don’t do well with emotional dialogue, model emotional sharing with them and help them feel comfortable with things of the heart.  As you pray with and for your sons they will “catch” the heart of their earthly father and their heavenly Father.

#2  Be Present: Many men can be present in body but not in mind and heart.  On your way home from work prepare your mind and heart to be there and take any distracting thought “captive” to your commitment to love then with the love of your Father.

#3 Be Playful: I’ve heard numerous “child experts” say that a child’s play is a dress rehearsal for life.  Become an expert at “Hide and Go Seek” and “Duck, Duck, Goose” and let them see your joy.  Cultivate skills at being silly. Playing with our kids is one of the most powerful laboratories for helping our kids put the truth of who God has called us to be into shoe leather.

#4 Be Possibility-Focused: Help them mine the potential life-lessons from their mistakes, failures and setbacks.  Model for them what Romans 8:28 and Philippians 4:19 look like in real life.  Teach them to look for the “growth opportunity” in every situation.

#5 Be a Promise-Keeper: I can’t count the number of men I’ve worked with who have sadly remembered their dads as promise-makers but not promise-keepers.  Let your word be your bond.  Find at least three men who will commit to daily pray for you and to encourage you to keep your promises.

With love and prayer, the determination to practice what you preach and willingness to learn from your own mistakes you will give your sons gifts that will impact them for the rest of their lives.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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