Three thought leaders on how being a supportive and nurturing dad impacts your kids.
As children, we look up to our dads—they are our heroes, our idols, our role models. And this weekend, we’re celebrating those amazing dads, thanking them for all they do for their families and their kids.
In light of Father’s Day, we asked three thought leaders—entrepreneur Mel Abraham, Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey and playwright and former NFL star Bo Eason—to share how being a supportive and nurturing dad can make all the difference in your children’s lives.
Best-selling author and “thoughtpreneur” Mel Abraham knows that supporting his son’s dreams—and not pushing his own agenda—is the best move a parent can make.
“I remember my son, Jeremy, was in high school. And I got him a tutor. He was doing really well in school, but he wanted to get an A in algebra. The tutor had a conversation with me and Jeremy. At the time, Jeremy said, ‘I want to go to film school. I want to do this.’ And the tutor looked to me and said, ‘What do you think about that, Dad?’ I said, ‘It’s his life. And he gets to live his way, and as long as it’s moral, as long as it’s legal, as long as it’s not hurting someone, bless him.’ His definition of success is his definition of success. I said, ‘I had a chance to do my life. He’s not my second chance.’ And [the tutor] said, ‘You know, there’s a lot of parents that don’t think that way, when I have this conversation [with them].’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll always want the best for him, but at the same time, he’s the one that gets to decide what’s really valuable to him.’
“Because in the end, [Jeremy is] the kind of person that loves to go backpacking and camping. I’m not that kind of person. But that’s his definition of success; he loves doing those kinds of things. … One of the things we need to do is not let [society’s] expectations dictate what our limitations are going to be. I think that’s a huge, huge obstacle for people who have this desire, have that yearning, but won’t step out because they’re afraid of what people are going to say. I will tell you that the people who mean something to you will rally behind you. They may be reluctant … because they don’t want to see you hurt. But I always believe that if you’re chasing your dreams and doing it responsibly, then you’re doing the right thing for the right reasons.” –Mel Abraham
Bulletproof founder and author Dave Asprey on teaching his kids gratitude and that failure is healthy and important.
“There’s one better investment you can make in your kids, even if you don’t feed them perfectly (which by the way, no kids eat perfectly) … And it’s love. You’ll have kids who are far healthier than the kids who are worried about being good enough all the time. So, every night I teach my kids something that makes them more ‘Bulletproof.’ This is a practice that works for me as well. Every night before bed, when I’m tucking them in, I say, ‘Tell me three things you’re grateful for today.’ Sometimes it’s ‘I’m grateful we had a really good dinner.’ Sometimes it’s ‘I’m grateful I played with my friends at school.’ It doesn’t really matter. But when you can turn on gratitude, it turns off fight or flight. It turns off anxiety. It turns off that voice in your head that says, ‘Maybe I’m not good enough.’
“Then I tell them, ‘All right, Anna. All right, Allen. Tell me something you failed at today.’ And the definition of failure is something that you worked really hard on that didn’t work. If they say, ‘I didn’t have any failures today,’ I go, ‘Oh, today wasn’t a very good day. Maybe tomorrow you can fail at something.’ The whole point there is for the kids to learn that failure is how we learn. Failure is how we grow, and the same thing should happen when you’re in the gym. If you don’t lift to failure, you actually weren’t pushing yourself. You have to fail, to grow. You want to do the things that are uncomfortable, the things that are risky.
“I don’t want my kids to be afraid of failure; I want them to embrace failure. Like, ‘Yup, I failed. But it doesn’t mean I’m unlovable. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It doesn’t mean I’m going to starve. It means I’m learning; it means I’m becoming more powerful.’ Embracing failure unleashes creativity. It unleashes enormous amounts of power, because all the energy that went into worrying about failure goes away. ‘I totally screwed that up. I won’t screw it up that way again.’ That’s a great hack: Embrace failure.” –Dave Asprey
Bo Eason, former NFL star, Broadway playwright and master storyteller, shares his dad’s morning ritual that helped shape him as a young boy.
“When I was 9 years old I had this dream—I made a plan. The plan was to be the best safety in the whole world, and I had 20 years to do it. … My dad would wake me up every morning at 5 a.m. He would pull the covers back, rub my back and whisper in my ear that I was the best. He would drop expletives as he said it. He would say, ‘You’re the best in there. Keep moving partner. Gosh darn it you’re the best.’ (But he never said gosh darn it.)
“He did that every morning until I moved out of the house. And even when I’d go back to that house—when I had kids and was in my 40s—we’d go there for Christmas and I would walk into the kitchen, sleepy-eyed, and get a cup of coffee from him. He would hold me—now I’m a foot taller than him—and he would rub my back and say, ‘You’re the best in the world; [gosh] darn it, you’re the best.’ And rub our backs—[mine] and my kids’.” –Bo Eason
Photo credit (top to bottom): monkeybusinessimages, Thinkstock; Todd Domenic Cribari, inspirostudio.com (2); Mark Kuroda, kurodastudios.com