Dads are Culture Makers

Being a dad is tricky, I know for the ladies listening, being a mum is tricky as well, in-fact, that's an understatement, there is no dad alive that wants your job.

But what does it mean to be a dad and why don't we talk about it more. What is a dads job description?

This stuff is tricky, because us dads need things kept simple - we don't like complicated. You know, we just want to know what to do.

We want to know what our job is.

We also don't want to go to parenting courses. We think that a parenting course is just going to make us feel small and useless and we already know we could be doing better we just don't want to find out how, we don't like this idea of knowing that we're no good. Parenting courses just grate against everything that we are.

So how do we work out our job description?

And what about if we're separated or divorced. Anything we could learn in a parenting course pretty much goes out the window when we're no longer living with our kids.

How do we parent then?

Or for those that are living with the mother of our kids, how do we help our partners filter all the parenting philosophies being thrown at uthem by social media and work out what is right for us as a family?

And perhaps bigger then all of this is that us dads need something that inspires us.

We need something big that inspires us to lead well at home.

We need that, we need inspiration. We need some big idea that's simple enough to grab us and help us to be what we need to be.

Well dads, that's what we are talking about today.

In today's episode I am going to present you with a very simple idea that will set you up for success as a dad — Hi, I’m Mike Edwards and I want to welcome you to the Culture Maker Podcast. The leadership podcast for dads, let's get into it.

Into finished

Peter Drucker, the famous business coach said culture eats strategy for breakfast. #2

Meaning whatever parenting strategies you adopt - focusing on the culture you’re creating eats those strategies for breakfast.

It's the same at work, if you're a leader at work, whatever strategies, profit and loss sheets and issues you are dealing with today. The most important thing you can do is to create a healthy culture for your team. This one thing, this one strategy trumps all others.

Seth Godin, Marketing Guru said culture beats strategy — so much that culture is strategy. #3

In a 2018 Harvard Business Review article the authors say that "For better and worse, culture and leadership are inextricably linked." #4

And so I just want you guys to understand this. You don't often get taught this in business school or by mentors - but culture is everything. Definitely at work and absolutely at home.

And often for us dads, culture making is our primary form of engagement.

We certainly play a lot with our kids and we bring the fun. A Lot of the research indicates that we're actually more likely to play with our kids then to feed or clean them. #1

Sorry women, but it seems this is a global thing. The funny thing that when us men think of child care. You know, when our partners say hey can you look after the kids, we naturally think of how we are going to play with them. That's pretty much all we think of.

And then when she says hey, the nappy bag is over there, don't forget to change their clothes. Don't give them this or that for dinner. We're think what, food, clothes?

So yes, we can be Mr funny guy, we can play a lot and engage in really fun ways with the kids. But culture making is so much more then this. In-fact so much of the the culture we are creating is in all the harder stuff.

For example, our culture in informed

By our vision for our family.

It's created by how we collaborate with mum.

It's worked out in our warmth and responsiveness or lack thereof.

It's formed when when there's failure and set-backs.

Our culture is set when we're engaging and fun. But it's equally set, possibly more so when things are hard and when there's been mistakes.

How we lead with our vision and how we respond to the mess is how we create our culture.

And so much of this is based on and flows out of what we think of ourselves.

Do we see ourselves as a leader. Do we see ourselves as the parent?

Are we engaged. Are we willing to lead?

Craig Grochel, in his book The Power to Change, says: "you can't change what you do, without first changing what you think of you". #5

And what he's talking about in this book is how we often seek change, but so much of the change we achieve is short term. And we don't get this long-term change in what we do, because long-term change requires us to change what we think of ourselves.

And so he says you can't change what you do until you change what you think of you.

It’s so true. We lead, live and parent out of our view of ourselves.

Many of you think you don’t have much to offer. You feel like you don't have a lot of value, you have a low self worth— and you bring this view of yourself to your parenting. You let it affect how you lead. You actually let it reduce your presence as a dad and your sense of value as a parent.

Many of you dads aren't leading because you simply can't work out how to lead. You can't look past your mess and you can't find healthy ways to engage at home.

For me, because I was bullied as a kid, I've spent most of my adult life wanting to go unseen, to hide. Bullies make you want to hide. It's funny, because now I'm on podcast and videos, and so a lot has changed for me. But I spent most of my adult life trying to be unseen and I told myself the lie that nobody would miss me if I don't turn up.

For years I brought this lie to my parenting.

How about you?

Someone once said we are all affected by mama, papa, drama and trama.

It's so true.

You see, I'm telling you today the truth — you, dad are a culture maker.

So what lies would stop you from stepping into this role today?

What things are cutting across your goal of creating a healthy culture for your partner?

What lies are affecting the way you turn up for your kids?

In this podcast I'm not going to lay out parenting steps. And all the key things you need to do as a dad.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you what to do.

I'm far less concerned about what parenting philosophies you adopt compared to what you think of you.

Because I know that If you realise that you are a culture maker today, you will turn up different tonight.

And dads, if you are worried about this stuff post divorce or separation. I want to give you some good news.

Much of the research shows that divorce is not the end of being a great dad. In-fact there are massive benefits to kids when fathers maintain psychologically significant roles in their kids lives, post divorce. #6

For many dads, divorce is not the end of being a great dad — it's just the beginning.

In-fact dads, when you're divorced, culture making is pretty much all you can do. You can forget about those complicated parenting strategies and focus almost entirely on building a healthy culture around your kids.

And dads, if you are worried about the amount of time you have with you kids, I get it. I think it's every dads worry.

I remember reading the autobiography of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. The book is called Shoe Dog and I can't recommend it enough. #7

It tells the power full story of how Nike was founded and just all the tremendous struggles they had from day one until they went public. It's a great story. And in it you just get glimpses of Phil's internal struggle with the lack of time with his kids.

This lack of time really is every dads struggle.

Most of the research I've read confirms that fathers all over the world, on average, spend less time with their kids, then mothers - but it's interesting that despite this comparative less time with our kids it is not a direct contributor to poorer outcomes for our children. #8

What is important, and how families thrive, is when the fathers relationship with their partners or ex partners is positive and engaged and where he actively maintains a healthy culture around his kids.

So, dad. You might be called dad or granddad, son or father, but you need to realise your real identity is that of a culture maker.

I am going to build this out in future episodes, to talk about what we do need to be doing as healthy culture makers.

But my aim today, was just to establish this big idea.

And hopefully inspire you in your role as a dad.

So that you would see your job description as that of a culture maker.

So let's get to it.

I know as you've been listening to this you've been thinking of some specific things you can do different today.

Perhaps some of you even need to pick up the phone and say sorry.

Some of you know you are parenting out of pain, and it's causing you to turn up in ways that don't feel good for anyone.

You know you need counselling.

And some of you, just want to know what to do next.

Well I promise, in future episodes to cover off all the things that create healthy cultures in our homes.

So I invite you to stick with me.

I hope that’s been helpful, thanks for listening, I’ll catch ya next time.


#1 Hossain, Z., Field, T., Pikens, J., Malphurs, J., & Del Valle, C. (1997). Fathers' caregiving in low-income African-American and hispanic American families. 
#2 Peter Drucker
#3 Seth Godin
#5 The Power to Change
#6 Amato, P. R., & Gilbreth, J.G. (1999). Nonresident fathers and children's well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of marriage and family, 61, 557-571  
#7 Shoe Dog
#8 The Role of the Father in child development

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