How to Teach Your Children to be Great

My supreme goal is to be a great father. But that is a tricky goal to achieve.

What does it mean to be a great father?

In fact, the realization of that goal may only be determined after I am gone, when my children reflect on my life and say, “He was a great dad.”

As I think about it, that’s very selfish of me, actually. What I really want to to raise children that become great. And not just great kids, but children that become great adults.

Maybe that is the mark of a great father.

I’m know that there are those of you who think I’m putting too much pressure on my kids by thinking this way, but I’m talking about something much deeper than the fleeting greatness of achievement.

I’m talking about cultivating greatness in their hearts.

Fatherhood is a Journey

There is an ancient Chinese Proverb that says:

“The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tau

Of the many ways one could interpret this phrase, I have decided that, for me, it means that in any great journey, our first step is just as important as our final step. We must begin and we must begin well.

I’m not sure about your house, but around here, fatherhood is a journey.

So, I have created a daily habit with my three sons that helps them begin each day well. I believe that, in time, it will cultivate greatness in their lives.

And that is why it has been a part of our routine since they have been able to talk.

Intentional Fatherhood

In an effort to be intentional about leading my sons well, I have started a morning routine to embrace their first step with excitement. I want my boys to greet each day with hope, optimism, and opportunity.

I want them to belive that every day can be a great day.

Before I leave each morning, I will get down on one knee in front of my sons, look them in the eye, and ask, “What are we going to do today?”

They respond, “I’m going to have a great day!”

Some days their enthusiasm wains and some days they answer begrudgingly, but this is our mantra.

It sounds simple enough, but I can prove to you that it works.

Greatness Flows from a Grateful Heart

I believe that our little exercise is important for two reasons.

First, it causes my sons to anticipate great things. When our eyes are inclined toward greatness, we tend to see it more often.

Second, our exercise cultivates a grateful heart. When we’re reminded of the simple joys each day, it helps us prepare our hearts for the seeds of gratitude to take root.

I had to leave our home early yesterday morning before the boys were awake. Naturally, I didn’t have time to go through our routine.

However, when I got home yesterday, my oldest son, MJ, came running to me. As I picked him up to wrap him with a hug, he pulled his head back from my shoulder and said, “I had a great day Daddy!”

Those are the rich moments of fatherhood. When you realize that your efforts are leading your children in a certain direction. And, as the Chinese Proverb reminds us:

“The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.”

What step will that be for you?



Matt Ham is an author and speaker who helps people pause and shift their perspective to the true wealth of life.

His first book, Redefine Rich, is a journey of discovering this perspective through the lens of five whispered words he overheard spoken to his aunt the night before she died. You can find out more about Redefine Rich, here.

Matt and his wife, Liz, live in Wilmington, North Carolina where they have three sons and a daughter on the way.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Hams!

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3 Responses to How to Teach Your Children to be Great

  1. Pam October 9, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    You are already a wonderful father. You unconditionally love your boys- nuff said!

  2. DS (@sparkvoice) October 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    I can consume more information, put it into action, and be more patient. Enjoyed the illustration.

    • Matt Ham October 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks Dan – it’s Dan right? Patience always seems to be elusive doesn’t it?!