Taking An Honest Look

Dave (not his real name) is a 42 year-old father of three. He’s married, and he owns his own business.

Dave became a client of mine because his wife complained that he “wasn’t there” much of the time, and that he was becoming more distant from her and the children. She told Dave that if things didn’t improve, she would consider a divorce.

When we started working together, I had Dave write up a list of things he wanted in his life. The list was long and impressive, and included things like writing a book, traveling extensively, learning to fly a plane, and building his own car. When I pointed out to Dave that his list didn’t include anything about his children, he paused for a long time.

“Something’s wrong with this,” he finally said.

Indeed, something was wrong.

Dave was guilty of doing something that’s increasingly common, in an age when Americans are working more than ever before. Dave had become overly focused on his job. And when things at home became stressful, he slowly began to “check out.” He spent less and less time with his kids. And when he was with them, he often thought about work issues.

Dave wasn’t too different than millions of other American men, who learned the “values” of independence and emotional distance while growing up. He’d learned a philosophy that stressed hard work, and being smarter than the other guy. And he learned to fool himself into believing that providing financial security for his family was enough.

It wasn’t nearly enough.

What he hadn’t learned was what his family needed from him, and how he could provide for them emotionally. This took some time, but Dave began to realize how far he’d moved away from his family, and how much damage this had done. We worked on a new list, and this time Dave included goals that involved his children. Slowly, Dave began to “live into” the goals he’d set with his kids. After four months, he’d strengthened his marriage, developed some intimacy with his children, and felt like part of the family again.

Dave changed his life when he took an honest look at his role in his family, and when he specifically defined success for himself with his children. Working with Dave and other parents has allowed me to see the value in setting specific goals with family members. It’s also made me question why more of us don’t create this specific vision for our own families. After all, haven’t we learned the importance of setting our goals and priorities in a specific way in our businesses? Is there a reason to avoid doing this with our own families?

I took some time to write down some of my family goals to “live into” during the next ten years or so:

  • To continue to grow and learn in my marriage, and to remember my tendency to want to be “right.” Instead, I’ll work on being kind—to both my wife and my kids.
  • To tell my kids I love them, no matter what age they are.
  • To have consistent family rituals, and to eat family dinners together 3-4 times each week.
  • To have kids that are unafraid to come to me with their problems, no matter how serious they are.
  • To teach my kids to love themselves
  • To be a great listener to my kids
  • To laugh often and loudly with my kids
  • To always be able to hug my kids, no matter what age they are.
  • To have the courage and foresight to say “no” to my kids often
  • To teach them that only two things matter in the world: loving each other, and the search for God.

How about your list? Are you concerned about the future of your family? Are there specific things you’d like to see? If so, step up, write your goals down, and start making them happen.

Writing your goals down may only take a few minutes.

Your busy life can handle that, can’t it?

© 2008 Mark Brandenburg

Other Father Issues, Books, Resources

*    *    *
To this day I can remember my father's voice, singing over me in the stillness of the night. - Carl G. Jung

Mark has a Masters degree in counseling psychology and has been a counselor, business consultant, sports counselor, and a certified life and business coach. He has worked with individuals, teams, and businesses to improve their performance for over 20 years. Prior to life and business coaching Mark was a world-ranked professional tennis player and has coached other world-ranked athletes. He has helped hundreds of individuals to implement his coaching techniques. Mark specializes in coaching men to balance their lives and to improve the important relationships in their lives. He is the author of the popular e-books, 25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers , and Fix Your Wife in 30 Days or Less (And Improve Yourself at the Same Time ). Mark is also the publisher of the “Dads Don’t Fix your Kids” ezine for fathers. To sign up, go to or E-Mail

Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Menstuff® Directory
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon Clay
©1996-2019, Gordon Clay