If we don't feel good about ourselves, we're not going to be the best fathers.
Self-image affects how we contribute to our work and relationships, and how we portray ourselves to others. If we feel inadequate, talentless or unworthy in some way, our ability to teach our children, be an example and provide leadership will be impaired.
So we need to take a look at that man in the mirror. What talents does he have? What knowledge does he possess? What skills can he claim? And what areas need attention? It's those inadequacies that can trip us up, disable our effectiveness as a father and perhaps even instill doubts in our kids.
It's not that we think dads need to be perfect. That's not possible. But we need to be honest with ourselves about our shortcomings and work to strengthen them. Do we lose control at sporting events? Are we too sensitive to criticism? Are we consistently impatient? Are we poor listeners? These behaviors may be masking inadequacies from our own childhood.
So, dad, how do you relate to those closest to you? Think about your interactions with your spouse, your friends and your co-workers. Are you kind? Do you listen to them? Do you value their place in your life or do you take them for granted? What are your strengths, and which areas in your interactions with others need improvement? Look again in that mirror and be honest with the person staring back at you. You may see someone you only thought you knew.
Love is made most visible by our actions rather than our words. It is our actions by which we are judged and that reflect on us in positive or negative ways. If we feel unskilled or uneducated, we can easily develop and convey a poor self-image and, in turn, act out in ways that are harmful to our children. Whether it seems like it or not, children look to their parents for models and to translate the standards presented to them by the advertising and entertainment media. Dad, you can have a greater impact on your children than you ever thought possible. Teach by example.
We've said it before. Your teenager may not look at you-but he or she never stops looking up to you. How you handle situations and work to develop a positive self-image has a great impact on your child. Take charge of areas where you feel you can improve. Take care of your health. Be positive in your attitude toward work and life. Praise your child's talents, helpfulness, skills and accomplishments. Be grateful. Your efforts will be rewarded with improved relations at work and at home.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of the new book "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com