If you’re a regular reader, you know that sometimes I write about some of the characteristics I think are important to being a father. And there are so many important traits to being a dad. Too many to cover in one blog post. Heck, there’s whole books on the subject.
Your kids should know who you are. And they should know what to expect when they talk to you.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s easy. And I’m certainly far from perfect in this area. We all have bad days. We all have days at work where things don’t go well, and it’s hard not to bring those frustrations home from time to time. Or the traffic is bad. Or the cashier at wal-mart messed as you were checking out, then had to take each item off the register, and then re-check your entire cart full of groceries.
We all have bad days. And we all have times when we have other things on our minds. Or we have our own interests and needs that need to be met.
But it’s important to remember that your kids need to know what to expect when they come to you. Whether they just want to tell you about something funny that happened that day, or something bad that has them upset. Or even something they did wrong. Ok, those are the hard ones. It’s hard not to have our anger rise instantly.
But these are the times when you take a deep breath, try to stay calm, and listen to what our kids are trying to tell us.
One time, my daughter was varying her schedule as she got ready for high school. I jokingly asked her if she was planning on skipping school. Well, it turned out that she and a friend did skip school. When I got home that afternoon, she came to me, crying, “Dad, I did skip school today. Me and a friend went to Shreveport.” Believe me, I was plenty angry. But I tried to stay calm, and instead asked her what all they had done. She told me, finishing with the fact that they’d eaten lunch at McDonald’s (or some such place.” And I said, kind of joking, you mean you took the day off, went all the way to Shreveport, and you didn’t even eat anywhere good? What were you thinking?”
It was hard to be calm. But it did help the situation. And it was easier to set a punishment when I was calm, rather than if I had been really angry.
Again, I’m far from perfect in this area. Sometimes when my kids talk to me, I’m distracted or I do become upset or even judgmental too quickly. But my goal is to stay calm, consistently calm, whenever my kids tell me something.
If our kids feel they can come to us without a quick emotional reaction or judgment for the small things, then we have a much better chance that they’ll come to us for the more important problems and decisions that they face as they grow up.
And isn’t that the kind of relationship we all eventually hope to have with our kids?