Inspirational evangelical speaker Jefferson Bethke says that if he's being honest, he thinks dads "can do a lot better," and therefore he's offering four tips meant to improve fatherhood.
Bethke, a father of two children with wife, Alyssa, said in a recent YouTube video that he believes Christian dads have the ability and potential to give more of themselves to God and their family.
The well-known author and evangelical speaker goes on to list four things he believes dads can do a better job on, warning that some of them "may sting a little."
The first thing, Bethke explains, is avoiding the "'Pleasantville' depiction of a mother and a father where the dad kind of works really hard during the day and then believes when he gets home that he can have a beer, he can sit and watch ESPN, and it's the mom's job to parent, to do the dishes, to cook, to change the poopy diapers, to get the kids dressed […]"
"I don't think it's a mom's job to parent, it's a parent's job to parent," Bethke tells the camera, adding that it is both parents' jobs to problem solve and decide "'how can we come together […] and make a better team for our kids?'"
Bethke encourages fathers to think about the "joy you're missing out on by not 'being in the trenches' with your kids" and participating in those seemingly mundane daily activities, like doing the dishes and cooking.
Bethke's second point touches on the importance of family over a career, saying that "work is not more important than your family."
The evangelical speaker points to several warning signs for when work may be too consuming for a father, like when it occupies more of the father's thoughts compared to his family, or takes up more of his time.
"I know plenty of kids who grow up with this bitterness" because they did not get enough attention from their father, the religious leader continues.
Bethke adds that the work we as Christians give to the world flows from family, pointing to two commandments in Scripture which state "be fruitful and multiply" and then "cultivate and subdue the land."
These commandments are evidence that "family and work are paired together in the Bible," Bethke explains, adding that "work flows from family […] family comes first."
Bethke's third tip of advice for fathers is to focus on their voice, suggesting that "[a father's] voice will definitely be the shaping voice over your kids. It'll also probably be their inner thought voice when they become teenagers and adults."
Therefore, when speaking, fathers must ask themselves if their voice will be one of compassion, condemnation, encouragement, etc.
Children need to hear a voice of affirmation that says "I love you no matter what you do," not "I love you because of what you do."
Lastly, Bethke warns of the dangers of the "sitcom dad" stereotype, citing the image of a father who lacks emotion, intelligence, and intimacy, giving the misconception that "a dad can't cry, a dad can't be emotional."
"It's ok for you to be gentle, and tender, and compassionate," Bethke says.
The author and poet concludes his brief YouTube video by telling dads that when being the father of young children, he really doesn't believe dads have enough "me time" to have a personal hobby that does not involve the family.
"Last time I checked, the dads that are doing 'well' don't really have hobbies," Bethke tells the camera.
Instead, for their hobby, dads should include the family.
Bethke ends his talk with encouraging dads to follow the grace of their heavenly father as their example.
"There is grace for you – every single one of these points came out of my learning," Bethke says. "I have the model of the heavenly father who shows us what it means to be active, to pursue, to care [...]."