So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

There are lots of lists on how to be the best dad. They range from the complex to the simple—take them huntinglisten to themlove their mom.

We can focus on externals, things we can’t control, or lessons we should teach them (make your bed, eat breakfast, talk nice). I’m more concerned about how we treat them and what we model for them. I always wanted to be a supermodel, and this is my best chance.

RELATED: Being a Dad is the Best Gig There Is

I’m a father of four. I don’t always get it right. A lot of the time I get it wrong, sometimes very wrong. When I’m tired, hungry, and grumpy, sometimes the kids carry the brunt. I’m not the perfect dad, nor the best.

What I have done is listen.

I’ve listened to people speak about their deceased parents (I’ve officiated about 100 funerals), I’ve heard fathers with grown children speak of their regrets, and I’ve listened to youth speak of the struggles they have with their parents (eight years as a youth pastor).

From my experience, study, and trial and error with my children, these three things appear to be the most important:

1) Apologize to your kids.

If there is one thing the world needs, it’s for people to be able to admit when they’re wrong, say sorry, and act differently. We teach our kids to say sorry to each other or their superiors as though the only people they need to apologize to are their peers and those who are in charge of them. But what about those they assert their power over? What about parents and children? Or as they grow older, bosses and employees?

When we apologize to our children, we teach them that even though no one can force us to say sorry, we choose to, because it is what is right. It teaches children that accountability is essential and that, first and foremost, we need to be accountable to ourselves. If we expect others to apologize for their mistakes, so should we.

It would probably be a surprise to hear that a repentant parent is a strong memory. I hear about it countless times when interviewing a family for a memorial service. Even my strongest memory as a child is when my father apologized to me. Let’s teach our kids that we’re not perfect while they’re young—they’ll realize it for themselves soon enough.

2) Show affection and say “I love you.”

The best advice I ever received from someone was to say “I love you” and hug and kiss your kids. I recall a former boss/pastor telling me, “My biggest regret as a father is that I didn’t tell my kids that I love them enough, and I didn’t hug and kiss them often enough.”

Children need to know what appropriate masculine affection looks like. They need to know how to give it and how to receive it. In a world that is confused about how to express emotion, let alone affection, dads need to step up to the plate.

RELATED: You Need to Believe You Have What It Takes to Be a Great Dad

It probably has never been modeled for you. It will probably be hard. I know it was and is for me. Each year as my kids get older, I fight the thought that my sons are too old for me to kiss them goodnight. That’s when I remember the wisdom that was passed on to me. This world needs men and women who know what masculine love looks like.

3) Use your manners.

I have to be honest, number three is a hard one for me. I grew up in a military home—when your parents asked you to do something, you did it (and don’t make me tell you a second time). There was no “please” and “thank you.” While I do believe there are times when a task needs to get done, manners—as I have come to learn—are essential.

My wife and I increasingly strive to say “please” and “thank you” to our kids. Why? After all, you’re the parent and they’re the kid, they’re supposed to listen to you and do what you say. When we do not use manners with our children, we inadvertently teach them the powerful can demand compliance.

Manners teach our children about equality and free choice. In a world that is demanding, where violating rights is the norm, where we marginalize and divide people into categories according to stereotypes, we need to teach our children about humanity and equality. It seems like a daunting task, but when we use our manners when speaking to them and others, in a small way, we show them what that is all about.

Furthermore, we teach them about honor. When we use our manners, we demonstrate that other people have inherent value and we should give them dignity and honor, whether they deserve it or not.

Here’s a bonus tip from Jaidon, age 7 (who is home sick with a cold and fever):

4) Take care of your kids when they’re sick.

When I was a kid this meant chicken noodle soup, The Price is Right, and warm ginger ale. Now it is non-GMO dairy and egg-free chicken noodle soup, Youtube, and organic ginger and lemon tea.

Times change a little, but they still need us.

As parents, our most important job is to show them what it looks like to be a functional adult.

None of us will get it right all the time, but if we approach raising our kids with humility and grace—to them, ourselves, and others—we have taken an enormous step in making this world a little bit better.

Josh Trombley

I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia with my wife and four kids who keep me plenty busy. I also pastor a church I planted called, Life Boat Church. In my free time, I enjoy writing music, books, and blog. You can find more of my work at www.joshtrombley.com.

Fall into the Arms of Jesus, Little One

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

I have three younger brothers, so I know how crazy and wild boys can be. Lots of falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and even a couple of head stitches. My husband has two younger brothers. He’d always tell how they used to jump from the banister down two floors onto the glass coffee table. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. Pure madness and chaos.  Right now, I have a little baby boy who’s only seven months, but I know he will probably be just as wild as his uncles and dad. But that doesn’t mean I’m...

Keep Reading

10 Tips to Banish Teenage FOMO

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Teen with red hair smiling

Do you ever feel like the whole world is having a party—and you weren’t invited Maybe you worry about being included in the right groups or invited to the right sleepovers. Maybe you envy the relationships you see at school or youth group or feel jealous of the perfect social media posts showing others making memories together. If you’re a teen in 2022, you’re probably well acquainted with the fear of missing out. Knowing or wondering what you’re missing or who is getting together without you can leave you feeling lonely. It can leave you lonely and a little blue....

Keep Reading

I’m So Thankful For This Little Family

In: Faith, Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler boy and infant girl, color photo

I remember my teenage self dreaming, hoping, and praying for a life like I have now. Praying for a man to love me, to be loyal to me, to want a family with me, to provide for me, to show me what stability felt like and what it felt like to not ever have to worry . . . and here he is right in front of me. I remember my teenage self dreaming, hoping, praying for a house I could make a home and raise my family in. Here it is right in front of me. But most of...

Keep Reading

How I Like My Coffee

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and daughter drink coffee

I like my coffee with hazelnut creamer and a dash of almond milk. I like my coffee cold and neglected on the countertop because I’m busy soothing my new baby boy, the one who has made me a mother. In my long robe and slippers, I pace the kitchen floor and hold my swaddled son close to my heart. When his fussing grows quiet, I can hear the ticking of the big clock in the den. The dawn slowly reveals itself, brightening the kitchen in increments. It’s hard to imagine keeping my eyes open until he’s ready to nap again....

Keep Reading

Compassion Holds My Heart

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Child hugging mother

I lean my head in through the window of his van. The first thing I notice is the funny smell. Like cigarettes. And maybe body odor. The second? His tired, wrinkle-lined eyes. They’re dull, lethargic even. My daughter scrunches up her nose. I give her that look and try to hide my own misgivings. But Compassion climbs in the car with me.  And as the taxi driver guides the car toward our destination, I ask him about his story. Turns out he’s been driving all night. Till 5:30 this morning. Taking people home who were too drunk to drive themselves....

Keep Reading

I Was the Girl Who Ran Away From God

In: Faith
Woman standing in grass, black-and-white photo

I was the girl. I was the girl who’d do anything to get high as a teenager. I was the girl who craved love and just wanted to be wanted. I was the girl who wasn’t afraid of anything. I was the girl who stopped believing there was a God. I was the girl who said I would never go back to church. I was the girl who was certain none of it was real anyway because I was wasting my time going places like that. I was the girl who let the heartache and disappointment of this old world...

Keep Reading

I Prayed for You Before I Knew You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, color photo

Baby, I have prayed for you—even before I knew who you would be.  I prayed I would be a mom one day when I was too little to know what I was praying for and again when I really thought my body would not be able to carry a baby. I prayed for you.  I prayed every day as you grew in my belly that you would be healthy, happy, and strong.  I prayed at every doctor’s appointment and scan that I would hear your heartbeat loud and strong.  I prayed for your arrival—for you to be safe and for...

Keep Reading

Dear Mom, I Miss You

In: Faith, Grief
Grown woman and her mother, color photo

Dear Mom, Yesterday I went over to your house. I was hoping you would open the door, but Daddy greeted me with his sweet smile. Yes, he still has a mustache. The one you hate, but I did manage to trim it up for him. I cut his hair too.   We talked about you over coffee and waited for you to join us, but you never did. He’s doing his best to do this life without you in it, but his eyes are clouded with memories and mixed with pain. He misses you, Momma. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose...

Keep Reading

Spaghetti Sauce Faith

In: Faith, Marriage, Motherhood
Mother and little girl holding a bowl of spaghetti, color photo

It was Sunday afternoon, and I was loading my grocery cart higher than I ever had in my life. My husband and I, along with our two kids under two years old, had been living with his parents for three months. We moved from our Florida home to look for a house in Georgia, and they graciously took us in. This was the day I loaded up on groceries—filling an empty refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. My shopping list was all the things. I needed to buy the smallest of table ingredients like salt and garlic powder to the big things...

Keep Reading

Dear Introverted Mom, Take that Break

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman outside with book and food

I am alone, in a hotel room, 20 minutes from home, lying back in the crisp bed, feet propped up on billowing white pillows. A good book is in my hand. The large window beside me overlooks the Mississippi River as the sun slowly sets and people unwind for a southern Louisiana evening in downtown Baton Rouge. I’ll probably order room service for dinner. I spent the afternoon at the coffee shop across the street, sipping on a deliciously caffeinated beverage carefully made to my liking. I ate a delicate snack filled with fruits, fancy lettuce, and expensive cheese while...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime