Modern dad with son

How to A Mindful and Modern Dad with Dr Josh Misner, RFL018

Mindfulness expert Dr Josh Misner joins Jay to share how dad’s roles are changing and how to have the courage to be a modern dad – one who is mindful and chooses how he wants to show up as a dad to each of his kids. The same wisdom applies for moms.

How To Be A Mindful and Modern Dad – Episode Overview

Do you think a dad is supposed to be the tough guy – the John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis type of hero that can battle with the toughest of foes, to be a hero to their kids?

What plays in your head at any moment is a voice of how to act as a dad. This voice may sound like your parents, your teachers, the news, a grandparent or even a neighbor. Those little voices come in and dictate how to be a dad. Well, maybe at the time you heard them they were useful, but how some of what you know about being a dad is now outdated. To be a modern dad means first means you are mindful – present, aware and tuned in. When you stop and notice, you tune in to new information that helps you determine as a dad (as a parent) what to do next that will help inspire happy, successful and responsible kids. This makes you open to whatever you need to do instead of following your default behaviors or the stories about what dads do that play in your head. This is what makes you a modern dad – one committed to showing up strong and right for the immediate situation – and in a way that makes sense for your kid, not concerned about what others may say about you. This is the definition of a modern dad.

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on dads. My intention is to help them realize that their roles are changing – and you control this change; you have the ability to define how you want to parent.

Meet our Guest Dr Josh Misner

Josh Misner being a modern dad photoDr Josh Misner is an award-winning communication and leadership professor and mindfulness researcher. His research focuses on the impact of mindful presence, or paying careful attention on purpose, particularly with respect to fathers and their families. A husband and active father of four, Josh teaches methods to savor each and every moment with the intention of playing an active role in children’s memories tomorrow. He founded the Mindful Dad Project, a collaborative community effort aimed at reconnecting fathers who desire a deeper connection with their children. Find out more at

Guest Links:

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. As dads, we have a lot of expectations of how to be with our kids – they come from our history and many of these expectations do not help us in today’s parenting.
  2. A modern dad is simply a dad that is present enough in the moment to see what his kids need, and courageous enough to deliver what works best for the happiness of his kids, without considering what the conventional wisdom of “what dads do.” See the article, “On Being A Man.”
  3. Conventional dad behaviors are those we heard and saw from our parents. They were parents in different times. Their guidance and focus may not be useful today, to your kids. Be open to changing whatever needs changing to be the dad your kids need.
  4. Modern dads challenge the status quo. They are more concerned about doing the right thing for their kids than looking good for others. They disregard the question, “what does a real dad do?” They know that a great dad is the one who tunes in, pays attention and cares enough to show up to his kids in the way they need him – stern, tender, guiding, listening – whatever will matter most. See my article “The Softer Side of Dads.”
  5. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. It requires us to be in control of ourselves enough to look at the moments and events of life as information (not judgmentally). From this place, a saner, calmer and more thoughtful dad (and mom) can consider and then choose how to respond.
  6. Mindfulness prepares dads to shift from reacting (going with our autopilot behaviors) to responding (we approach our actions with attention and intention).

Questions for Parents:

  1. What behaviors do you have with your kids that are not that productive – that come from what conventional dad behaviors tell you – but you do them any way? Which ones will you start to change?
  2. How can you develop the courage to be the dad you want to be without caring what others say? How will this help your kids learn confidence?
  3. How would you define being a modern dad for you? Moms, how can you help dads be confident in developing their own definition of what it means to be a dad today?
  4. What can you do to show up more present and aware to what is going on with your kids to determine what to consider and ultimately choose to be a great parent?
  5. How can you become less judgmental with your kids – and see what they do as information – then use it to sanely, wisely decide what to do next?

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Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1. Stop and Notice you as you parent. What is effective, what is ineffective?
  2. Stop and Notice how your kids respond to your parenting? Does it connect with them and help the to be accountable, responsible and happy?
  3. Stop and Notice what you think it means to be a dad. How will you write your own definition and not be quick to take on the definition of others?
  4. Stop and Notice when you are not listening or not paying attention to your kids. What is stopping you? What information are you missing? How could being more aware improve your relationship with your kids?
  5. Stop and Notice how you and wife/partner parent. How do you support each other to be your unique and your best selves, not stuck in some other definition of what it means to be a mom or a dad?

Parenting is tough. The best parenting comes when we show up mindful, present and tuned in to our kids, non-judgmentally, so we can then assess and decide how we want to show up in this moment. This changes everything about parenting.

Suggested Resource

Mindfulness For Beginners – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness for BeginnersThe practice of mindfulness holds the possibility of not just a fleeting sense of contentment, but a true embracing of a deeper unity that envelops and permeates our lives. With Mindfulness for Beginners you are invited to learn how to transform your relationship to the way you think, feel, love, work, and play-and thereby awaken to and embody more completely who you really are.

Here, the teacher, scientist, and clinician who first demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness within mainstream Western medicine offers a book that you can use in three unique ways: as a collection of reflections and practices to be opened and explored at random; as an illuminating and engaging start-to-finish read; or as an unfolding “lesson- a-day” primer on mindfulness practice.

Beginning and advanced meditators alike will discover in these pages a valuable distillation of the key attitudes and essential practices that Jon Kabat-Zinn has found most useful with his students, including:

  • Why heartfulness is synonymous with true mindfulness
  • The value of coming back to our bodies and to our senses over and over again
  • How our thoughts “self-liberate” when touched by awareness
  • Moving beyond our “story” into direct experience
  • Stabilizing our attention and presence amidst daily activities
  • The three poisons that cause suffering-and their antidotes
  • How mindfulness heals, even after the fact
  • Reclaiming our wholeness, and more

The prescription for living a more mindful life seems simple enough: return your awareness again and again to whatever is going on. But if you’ve tried it, you know that here is where all the questions and challenges really begin.

This resource includes a complete CD with five guided mindfulness meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn, selected from the audio program that inspired this book.