Superheroes: We all love them, and we all need them. My boys talk about how much they wish they could have superhero powers and they have often asked me if I wished I was a superhero. This got me thinking: I have the opportunity to be a superhero every day. I’m a father, and after all God has given me the power to raise a holy family. I began to think of the characteristics of a superhero and how they relate to a father’s.
I’ve come up with a list of what I think could turn any mediocre father into Superdad. The following are 7 tips to help you reach superhero status.
1. Never Act Out of Anger
A superhero has learned to control himself and never allows his emotions control him. A superhero makes sound and just decisions. You can choose to Hulk-out over little Timmy smashing the windshield out of your brand new pick-up with his baseball, or you can remain cool and collected and remind him why it’s important not to play baseball in the yard when the garage door is open.
2. Be Encouraging
If you want to raise confident and happy children then treat them as such. In Ephesians 4:6, Paul writes, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” On the same note Colossians 3:21 states, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Children look to their fathers for approval, acceptance and wisdom. If your child makes a mistake help them correct it and encourage them to do better. Help them see the love of God inside themselves. Peter Parker’s (Spiderman) uncle was always positive and helped Peter see his own strengths. Superman’s’ earthly father was warm and wise. A father’s love for his children is profound and it is supposed to be an example of God’s love for us. Your kids need to know how much you love them and how honored you are to be their father. With a father’s love, you can’t go wrong.
3. Admit Your Faults
Unless you’re Tony Stark, a superhero is humble and is not afraid to own up to his mistakes. When you mess up, own it and fix it. Apologize to your family and vow to never make the same mistake again. Doing this will show your children that you are human and that it is okay to make mistakes. Your sincerity in improving yourself will leave a lasting impression on your children and you will earn much more respect.
4. Know the Mission
Every superhero has a purpose and has something to fight for. Maybe you’re Thor and you swore to protect the people of Earth (if this is the case maybe you should keep that to yourself). What is your purpose? As a father, as head of the household, you have been given the responsibility of keeping God’s Holy Law alive within your family and help your children become faithful servants of our Lord. You will have many forces against you and at times it will seem that you and your wife are fighting alone. But don’t be fooled, God will never abandon you. The Church is here to help you.
5. Take care of your health
Now, I’m not saying fathers are expected to have the physique and stamina of Captain America. Ain’t nobody got time for that! What I mean is that we need to be around for our family, and we can’t guarantee that if we are neglecting our bodies with lack of exercise and filling our bodies with junk food. If, God forbid, you were to die early in life, you do NOT want it to be because you failed to take care of yourself. Plain and simple. This is something we struggle with daily, but it’s worth it and your family will thank you for it.
6. Love Your Wife
Every superhero needs his Lois Lane, Pepper Potts or Mary Jane. If you are married, I’m sure you love your wife, but how do you show it? Does your wife know you love her? How can you be so sure? If you have children, the way you and your spouse interact with one another and how you show affection will greatly influence how your children treat their significant others as adults. If you want your son to love his wife and to always show affection and respect for her, then you need to do the same with his mother. If you want your daughter to marry a man who is loving, strong and kind and would never lay a hand on her, then you better show her what that looks like. You are setting the example with your marriage, so make it a great example. Treat your wife that same way these superheroes treat the girls who have their hearts.
If you are a single father this still applies to you. You can show great love and admiration for your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister and daughter and it will have the same influence on your children.
7. Lead by example
What good is a superhero if he talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk? Instilling values in your family but not living by them yourself is a surefire way to lose all accountability as the family superhero. You will make mistakes so expect them. Don’t let them hold you back, but instead learn from them and move on.
These tips I outlined are not an easy fix, believe me. If you’re a father who is struggling to be a good role model for your family, you’re not alone. It takes time and you’ll never be perfect, but with God anything is possible. Find a group of men who have the same struggles and meet with them regularly for support and encouragement. Become friends with fathers whose children are grown and still have a strong relationship with them. Pick their brains and ask questions. Begin a devotion to St. Joseph, the ultimate superhero dad (apart from God, of course). Be purposeful in every interaction you have with your family and learn to cherish every moment. You’ll be surprised at how one little action can boost you to superhero status in no time.