A Fathering Resolution for New Years

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

New Year’s resolutions aren’t my favorite, and a recent headline from The Atlantic captures the aura of the season perfectly: It’s the Most Inadequate Time of the Year. Indeed – we make resolutions with the aim of correcting or addressing those aspects of life in which we’re inadequate and struggling, and more than a few companies do their best to highlight our needed areas of improvement. Ugh.

This year, though, I stumbled upon a positive statement I’m applying as a personal resolution. It’s not so much a challenge to do more or be better but – rather – a reminder to see the potential right in front of me. The potential of my kids.

The statement comes from The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, a book that Amazon currently lists as its “#1 Best Seller in Popular Culture in Social Sciences.” Not the typical terrain for parenting resources and I wasn’t looking for such when I read it. Nonetheless, that’s what it provided. After its authors, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, share a fascinating (and not a little discouraging) analysis of American culture and the propagation of the three “Great Untruths” (which I’ll return to in future posts) they provide wise thoughts about what you and I can do to prepare our kids to face and defeat these ideas when they encounter them. Chief among them is the importance of encouraging our kids to stretch and grow and do hard things. And central to that is the statement that I want to be core to my 2019:

Assume that your kids are more capable this month than they were last month.1

These words jumped off the page to me. This is part of my aim as a dad, right? I want to raise kids who can do things and handle life, kids who are learning and develop and – yes! – becoming more and more capable. I want this…but do I assume this?

Well, in 2019, that’s my aim. I’m going to strive to assume that my kids are continually and incrementally growing more and more capable. I’m going to work for a growth mindset in parenting, believing that my daughters and son aren’t limited to the capabilities and expertise they now possess. Maybe you couldn’t do this the last time you tried…but let’s try it again. Maybe your previous attempt was frustrating and unsuccessful…but you’ve grown in ability since then. With encouragement and love, I’ll do my best to nudge them along, helping them to see their own potential and realize it step-by-step.

That’s a dadcraft resolution worth considering, don’t you think?

Lukianoff, Greg and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, Kindle Location: 4,058


Engaged, present fathering is another dadcraft resolution to consider. Less expectedly, so is a commitment to accept temporary confusion. Or pursuing a new dadcraft skill like storytelling.

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Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash.