Fathers give us our identity, who we believe we are. They are also responsible for protecting us & providing for us – financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically.
When you grow up without a father who was present & attentive, then you tend to struggle with your identity – who you really are, who you were created to be. Just because you had a dad present, doesn’t make a difference. He needs to be involved in your life in a positive way. Is an absent dad better than an abusive or non interested & non involved dad? It could be argued that at least a kid knows where they stand.
Several years ago, a nun arranged for Mother’s Day cards to be given to every prisoner in a certain prison for men in America so that they could write a card to their mum for Mother’s Day. Every prisoner took one & sent it. Father’s Day was coming up so she arranged the same thing but with vastly different results. No-one wanted to send a card to their dad. They all seemed to have dysfunctional dads who were either dead or didn’t care about them and hadn’t shown them love. Much could be presumed about those results and the effect dad’s have on their children.
Two great quotes about the role of a father are:
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” Jim Valvano
“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” Sigmund Freud.
There was an article recently in our local newspaper from a swimming teacher. She was imploring dads (all parents but found it particularly evident amongst dads), to switch off their mobile phones when they brought their child to swimming class. She had lost count of the number of times a child achieves something new & immediately glances towards their dad for affirmation & notice. This swimming teacher was saying that just about every time, the dad would be SMSing or doing something with his phone & didn’t notice junior’s achievement. She said that she could physically see the impact on the child & their performance.
Dad’s in particular, but also mums, I want to challenge you today to think about how much time you actually spend daily really communicating with your individual children. What words have you spoken to them today? Have you taken the time to touch them in a loving, age-appropriate way with a kiss, hug, hand on shoulder, wrestle etc.
I don’t intend this article to be negative but to inspire you to take a minute to reassess your relationship with your child. Fifteen years ago we were involved in running a program called “How to Drug Proof Your Kids”, written by Glenn Williams from Focus on the Family, Australia. (www.families.org.au/dpyk) Brilliant program but in a nutshell, it comes down to the relationship you have built with your child. I loved the list of questions it asked in about the second week. They included, ‘What is your child’s favourite song?”, “What is their favourite book?”, & also some really great feeling questions. Some of the answers meant that you really had to spend quality time with your kids to have found them out.
I really believe that we have swallowed a great lie that “quality not quantity” counts with time, which of course does have merit. But when it comes to child raising, we let ourselves off the hook by believing that a small amount of time actively listening compensates for the rest of the time we are too busy to spend with our kids.
Basically kids want to know that you have time for them and will listen to them. I was chatting with a work colleague today and asking her how her kids (aged 10, 8, & 4) were handling the recent separation she had made from her husband, their father. She told me how her eldest had really struggled and had been really negative towards her but that had all changed since she had spent one on one time with her braiding her hair and listening to her two nights ago. Now the daughter was completely positive towards her. Spending time with your kids, one on one, doing what they want to do, makes a difference as it communicates ‘I love you’ in a powerful way.
I encourage you to plan to spend time one on one with each child in the next few weeks, with no agenda other than to do what they wold like to do (within reason). Enjoy!!