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There are plenty of “Dad-Blogs” which have headlines stating they’ll make you a better dad, then they offer nothing but a giant word fest which teaches you nothing you can apply to your life to actually becoming a better father.

I can’t make you a better father, but I can give you some tools I’ve learned along the way which have served me well.

REMEMBER: Your family is unique to mine; you’ve got to take my approach and apply it in your own manner.


Take the themes and apply them, not the literal words – be smart


1. You Need to Really Talk to Your Kids

Seems simple enough, right?

I see so many adults talking at their kids. They don’t ever take the time to listen to what they have to say. When my kids speak, I give them the same level of attention I’d give an adult who is speaking to me.

If you give more attention to this blog post than you give to your children when they speak, you’ve got a problem.


Your children will share great insights to their character, goals, fears, and more when really let them speak and you listen distraction-free.

Pay attention to the subjects they bring up.

Pay attention to what they focus on or what they hide from when you ask them about their day.

When you ask how their day was, follow up with a question about a specific topic they mentioned:


You: How was your day?

Kid: It was boring, I had art. 

You: Oh Yeah? What did you do in art class?

Something along those lines.

Kids aren’t stupid and they aren’t immature beyond discussion.

Speak to them and listen when they speak to you, every day have an in depth discussion with your child.


2. You Need to Spend Time With Your Kids

When I say, “Spend time with them” I don’t mean it in the sense that you’re both in the same room watching TV together.

Take your kid outside and play catch, push them on a swing, draw together, or play with Legos.


Do something together that requires you working side by side creating a moment where topics can be discussed, laughs can be shared, and the simplicity of life can return:


  • No technology
  • No stress
  • No worries


Hakuna Matata


3. You Need to Struggle With Your Children

Doing hard things strengthens character, doing hard things together forges bonds.


Hiking a mountain with a young child provides an opportunity for you to sweat with your child.

Minimalist camping does the same.

Working out together, running together, writing papers together, etc.


Do hard things together.

Sometimes I’ll write in my notebook while my kids do their homework so they can see me grinding too.

Sometimes when I know I’ve got some hard yardwork to do I’ll bring my kids with me. They get in the way more than they help, but they see me struggle and I include them in it.

It makes us all better.

Your children need to see that just because something is hard it doesn’t mean that it needs to be avoided or that you can quit.

Our children need to find comfort in the discomfort of living.


4. Have Purpose In The Time With Your Kids

As a child’s father (or father figure) you should have goals.

You should also have goals for those around you.

I have goals for my wife and children which to me only makes sense. Before I set their goals in my head, I analyze their strengths, weaknesses, preferences, etc.

From there I decide what I’d like to see of them, then I directly relay that information. .

I’ve set very intentional actions in place to help each achieve them.

I train with my son, daughter, and my wife.

Don’t just hang out with your kids, have goals and be intentional with the hours you spend with them to help ensure they’re going to go somewhere in life.

Without having that compass, you’re spending a lot of time sending energy into the world when you should be channeling it to achievements.


5. Bring Your Children With You Wherever You Can

Your children are going to follow your example, not your advice.


  1. Let them see you reading.
  2. Let them see you exercising.
  3. Let them see you working.

Your kids need to see you doing these things.

You may absolutely kill it at work, but if all you do when you come home is “relax” then Monday through Friday all your wife and kids see is you relaxing; that’s all they’ll ever know and all the memories they have of you.

Relaxing dad…

Bring them with you when you grind and work on the development of self.

They need to see that side of who you are as a man, so bring them with you even if it’s just a run to the hardware store, LOWE’s, or to meet your buddy.


6. You Need to Show Up

I coach my kid’s teams – whatever the sport.

I’ve coached my son to 5 Championships and I’ve never played an official game of baseball in my life.


I played football growing up; my son loves baseball, so I taught myself the game and volunteered to coach.

You don’t have to be the best, have a background in their passion, or know exactly what it is you’re doing, your kids just want you there, so show up.

Volunteer at their school, get on the field of their sports however you can, go out and do things, don’t watch others lead your children.


7. You Have To Let Your Kids Fail, It’s Good For Them.

Parents are so afraid of their kid fucking up that they end up being the one to fuck their kid up.

Kids need to fail and they need to learn how to deal with that failure.

There have been so many times where my wife has said “don’t do that.” and I’ve had to interject and tell my kid that they should go for it, but it’s going to be hard.

Whether that is climbing a rock, tree, competing in something, or trying to hang with older kids it doesn’t matter.

I’ve seen my kids fail so many times it is ridiculous.

I never allow them to put themselves in danger, but I’ve let them get the scrapes and bruises pursuing glory.

When your kid fails, take it as an opportunity to teach them why and how they can train so that they don’t repeat the failure.

Your child failing isn’t a bad thing, it means they had the balls to try.


8. Challenge Your Children Properly

We live in an age where every hard edge and corner is covered with a pillow.

Every sharp object is hidden.

Everything is rewarded and nothing is punished.

Spoon fed children in bubbles are creating man-children and irresponsible women acting like teens as they age.

Make your kid better.

Make sure that your child faces hardship and is challenged in life.

I’ve made this an intentional part of my parenting as I didn’t want to turn my kids into spoiled or entitled individuals. They don’t have to face the hardships I faced as a child, but they aren’t going to get by without learning perseverance and grit, even if it’s manufactured.

Take the time to recognize their accomplishments so they don’t get the “nothing is good enough” complex, but challenge their efforts.

Keep raising that standard, comfort breeds complacency.


9. Treat Your Kids Like Adults In Training

Don’t talk to your kids like they’re babies, they aren’t.

Don’t treat your kids like they aren’t capable of understanding certain concepts, they are.


  • Death
  • God
  • War
  • Murder
  • Love

Kids will get it, if you explain it to them.

I understand that there needs to be a certain level of preserving their innocence, but kids need a healthy dose of reality as well. Give them that level of respect, they can handle it.


10. Don’t be a Hypocrite:


  1. Don’t tell your kid to read if you don’t.
  2. Don’t tell your kids to exercise if you don’t
  3. Don’t tell your kids to pursue their goals if you don’t

Don’t be a hypocrite.

Their standard is based off yours, so set a high bar. They don’t know what your strengths and weaknesses are, so when they see you relaxing and snacking, they think that’s a good thing and how they should behave.

Live the life you expect from your children.

If you want your children to reach the highest of heights, pursue them yourself.


Remove the excuses – start today.

Acta Non Verba,

Zachary Small

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