Father’s Day is about appreciating dads. I am a Dad, and I can use all the appreciation I can get. In honor of this year’s festivities, let’s remember just how much influence dads can have in their kids’ lives.
As a gift to all the dads out there – since you are so important, here is the best thing you can do to insure that your kids will turn out ok.
In the first years of life, kids learn about themselves and the world from their parents. The things we say to our kids, and the way we treat them, form the blueprints of how they feel about themselves for life. Here’s a story from my own life to show you what I mean.
One day a couple of years ago, when my son was about three years old, I came home from work to find him standing on a windowsill. Now don’t worry. It wasn’t a very high windowsill. He wasn’t really in any kind of danger.
He turned to me and said, “Look at me, daddy!”
Now I could’ve responded to this in one of many ways.
If I thought he was trying to defy me, I would have yelled at him saying, “Get down from there this instant, young man!”
If I would’ve been afraid, out of my own anxiety I would have said, “Oh my gosh, get down, you’re going to hurt yourself!”
If I was distracted, tired at the end of a long day at work, I might have just ignored him.
But on that strange and mysterious day, (I’m only telling you about the time I think I got it right. I’m too embarrassed to tell you about all the times I know I got wrong.) I looked at him and said, “Look at you!”
A few seconds later, he climbed down.
What would my son have learned about himself if I had reacted in those other ways?
If I had yelled at him, he would have come to believe that he was bad.
If I had reacted with fear, he would learn that he couldn’t trust himself and that he was incapable.
If I ignored him, he would feel that he was unimportant.
But what did my son really need from his dad, the most important guy in his world, at that moment?
What he needed was to be recognized, to have his mastery praised. You see, my boy had mastered so little at that point in his life. He couldn’t draw a circle. But this was something he could do well – and he wanted me to see it – to acknowledge it – and celebrate it.
By looking at him, acknowledging him, appreciating him, and praising him, he learned that he is good, he is lovable, he is capable, and he is important.
He learned about the world through his dad, too. He learned that the world is a safe place that he can trust and is filled with love.
These are the building blocks of confidence and happiness in life.
Each of our children is like a tiny acorn. If we give this seed the proper emotional sunlight, soil, and water, our children will grow into mighty oaks. We cultivate our children by letting them know that we love them just as they are. That’s what dads do, and I think that’s pretty important.
And worth celebrating. Happy Father’s Day.