It’s almost Father’s Day. Here’s a short blog on the power dads have in the lives of their children.
I believe that it’s possible to be “super dad” without being perfect as a father. I’m definitely not perfect! You don’t need to be a perfect dad to raise your kids well. When my children were all very young I was struggling over something in my relationship with my son. A friend knew me enough to recognize my tendency toward perfectionism in certain areas in my life – trying to be the perfect dad in this case. He said, “We don’t need to be perfect dads. We just need to be good ones.”Those words were very freeing. Good dads – the kind that invest themselves extensively into the lives of their children, imperfectly even – have tremendous power in the lives of their children. Here are some of the biggest sources of power I am working on in my role as a dad.
The power of being PRESENT: Just today I needed to take our youngest to a dental appointment to get x-rays, something that multiple hygienists and the dentist had unsuccessfully attempted to do with her many times in the past (the uncomfortable brackets always brought the show to a close). This time dad would also be sitting in a dentist’s chair – at the exact same time. Little did my daughter know that my reason for being there was much more extensive (and much more uncomfortable!). But in her little world, the pep talk I gave her just before we went in was all she needed for a successful visit, finally. Meanwhile, dad was just across the commons area in another chair getting stuck and drilled for three small cavities that suddenly appeared (never had one before turning 40, what’s that all about?). Dad was the most anxious today, but my daughter had no idea, she just knew I was in the other room supporting her and believing that she could do it.
Dads, your kids think you are fearless. They have no idea that you also have to battle fear and build courage in life, and for things a lot more significant than just a dentist’s drill.Your children are going to face all of the same fear-producing circumstances that you did (and do), and your presence in their lives is a source of courage and strength, even when you’re not aware of it. I remember how the whole world seemed to change after my dad died. It seemed as though it suddenly became more threatening, more unstable. When dad was around it was easier to overcome intimidation and fear. Over the years since then I have grown in my ability to deal with those things apart from him, but I now realize that having him around until I was 30 gave me thirty years of his backing and support. Fathers have the potential to be one of the greatest sources of strength in the lives of their children, and much of it happens simply because you take the time to show up, hang around, and give your children the gift of your time.
The power of TIME: One of the greatest gifts you can ever give your children is your time. Yeah, that means that some dads need to learn how to cut back on their favorite activities, not entirely of course, but for some, significantly. Hey, your kids are only in your home for about 18-20 Christmases, and you already know how fast those fly by. Be there, even when your mind might be elsewhere because of some stressful thing or problem at work. They just know that you’re there.
One of the areas I am growing in most when it comes to spending time with my children is using the time I give them to really connect. I love activity and doing things and going places, and before I know it, a big family weekend is over, and the truth is, we did a lot of stuff but we didn’t really connect. I’ve learned that I need to slow down, look my children in the eyes, listen to them, and respond to them warmly and affectionately whenever possible. I believe one of the most important expressions of your love for your children is the giving of your time. This makes them feel loved.
The power of WORDS: Shortly after the passing of my biological father, someone that I consider in my life to be a father figure and mentor was responding to my email regarding a very difficult situation in our church. I had just made some decisions as a leader that were unpopular and had really rocked the boat. He gave me wise counsel, shared some Scripture and maybe a prayer, and closed with these simple words: “I’m proud of you.” Wow. My courage went through the roof!
It is my conviction that my words to my children have almost the same power in their lives as the words of Scripture. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about “equal weight” or longevity. I’m talking about the power they have in forming the self-concepts and esteem in our children, while they are still in our homes. This definitely means there is need for carefulness when we’re upset and needing to discipline. But at least equal to that is the need for dad to speak words of affirmation. “Son, you are a wonderful person, and your mother and I are so thankful that we have you in our lives. We love watching you grow, and we know that you have been made for a purpose. Good things are planned for you.” Kids need to hear words like that on a regular basis. I heard one statistic that over 70% of our thinking is negative. I’m committed to being one of the most positive forces in the lives of my children, and I know I can do this best through words.
Dads, you’re really powerful!
Have a great Father’s Day!