Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » Fatherhood and Leadership: Rules 3-7


As you can probably guess, I have been posting about things related to fathering because Father’s Day is approaching and I will continue for the rest of the week. If you are getting tired of my diatribes on fatherhood, hang on, for Jimmy Buffet says, “Come Monday, it’ll be all right.”

Why the heck am I starting at rule 3? Well, that is because I posted the first on my facebook. Find me there and you can have the first two. Don’t worry, if you are a friend of my blog, then you are a friend of mine; “Pedo mellon a minno" if you know Sindarin.

These are not really rules mind you. They are more like observations or recommendations. The author of these has been an educator and educational consultant. He “was the co-founder of The Heights School in suburban Washington, D.C. and founder and first headmaster of Northridge Preparatory School in suburban Chicago.” James Stenson consults on family life and family-school relationships. Both of the schools he was involved with are some of the top in the nation. He has also written a number of books that are quite good.

For context, the article that these observations come from deal with leadership found in organizations and how these are also found within the family in fatherhood.

So his observations 3 through 7:

Number 3. “He works with his wife to set and maintain a long-term vision (20 years ahead) about the children's growth in character, no matter what they later do for a living. Both spouses think of their children as grown-up men and women, adults with virtue: conscience, competence, responsibility, self-mastery. This distant but clear ideal forms the basis for teaching, practice, and correction now.”

In business, a good leader thinks long term. Where does he want the business to be in 10 or 20 years? As parents, the same is true. Education in virtues starts in the family, but the parents need to have a goal in mind so that they can form their children. Something to keep in mind, some virtues are easier to teach at certain ages. For example, the virtue of industriousness is easily taught in the younger years as responsibility is easier in mid-childhood.

Number 4. “He corrects his children's faults, not them personally. He "hates the sin, loves the sinner." He combines correction and punishment with affectionate forgiveness, understanding, and encouragement. He is neither weak nor harsh but rather affectionately assertive. He loves his children too much to let them grow up with their faults uncorrected.”

Not only does this correct behavior in a good way, the way it is done teaches the child. A much needed social virtue for adulthood is the ability to love your neighbor but also recognize that your neighbor has faults.

Number 5. “When he must correct anyone in the family, he does this personally and privately whenever possible. He does not chew people out in public.”

Children react horribly to public correction; it is humiliating. Publicly correcting your child now also trains them to correct others in the public later.

Number 6. “He's not afraid of being temporarily "unpopular" with his children. Their long-term happiness is more important to him than their present bruised feelings from correction. He's confident that their present resentment will soon pass, and that someday they will understand and thank him for his principled corrective efforts.”

This also has the side benefit of teaching children to say “No.”

Number 7. “He encourages his children, showing and explaining how to do things right, and how to do the right thing. He directs rather than manages, and makes praise as specific as blame.”

What is that great leadership quote? Warren Bennis says, “Managers are people who do things right; leaders are people who do the right thing.” The father must guide his children in both. I really like the recommendation to praise for specific actions. I find myself too easily blaming certain actions and forgetful in praising good deeds.

Alright, those are tips 3-7. What other correlations can you find between good leadership and fatherhood? Have you found any good books that can help fathers train, form, and educate their children to eventually lead good and fulfilling lives?