Here at NCF, our staff is busy getting ready to honor dads (and their essay-writing kids) as part of our Father of the Year Contests. As I said in last week’s blog, I’ve been impressed by the wisdom these guys show, and I’m sure many of you have similar insights you could share. (I hope you do share them with other dads.)
One point these dads often mention has really stuck with me, and it might seem obvious, but I want to point it out and affirm you for it today. This is one big benefit you provide for your children.
What am I talking about? I’m not sure there’s one word that captures it all, but these should get you in the right neighborhood: security, stability, belonging, acceptance, and so on.
When we ask these dads about what’s important in their fathering, they say things like:
“Providing a safe, supportive, nurturing environment.”
“Giving my kids a place where they know they’ll be loved and accepted, no matter what.”
“Someone who will always be there for them, whom they can come to and talk about anything, any time.”
Sometimes we talk to men who are stepdads or in a father figure situation, where the children have been through something really difficult or traumatic. Or maybe the dad has a special-needs child and all the typical rules and expectations go out the window. For those guys, it’s back to basics—providing that foundation of love and support that kids need. I think it’s a good reminder for all of us.
I probably underestimate how challenging and stressful it can be for a child growing up in today’s world. I try to be sensitive to my teenage son, but I also know there’s a lot of instability around him every day. He’s dealing with challenges and uncertainties that I probably don’t fully understand.
Also, our kids are just clueless in some ways. I can remember being a teenager, and my pop would say, “Son, don’t lose your mind. Keep your poise.” But it didn’t really click for me. I was more concerned about whatever issue or selfish thing was in my brain at the moment.
And to be honest, sometimes we are the source of stress with all our busyness and high expectations. I can remember times as an adult when I would travel to see my dad, and when I got there I would complain about the plane being delayed. He would say, “Well, Son, the plane landed safely. So, it’s all good.”
Pop’s words have stuck with me, and today, in my fifties, I’m learning that a big part of my role is to keep my poise, like what he was describing. My son, my grandkids, and even my adult kids and their spouses look to me for that stability.
We’ll go through things as husbands, as leaders, as fathers. Sometimes our kids are going to lose their minds, and there’s little we can do about it. But we have to maintain our poise. Our kids are watching to see how we will respond.
Can they still count on us? Are we that consistent, reliable presence for them? They want and need stability and security from us. These might be “basic” benefits we give to our children, but it’s also vital that we remove those potential worries from their minds and their lives.
Are you a calm, consistent presence for your children? What’s your secret to keeping your poise? Help other dads by leaving a comment either below or on our Facebook page.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
- The traditional “protecting and providing” description of your role as a dad might be out-of-date and incomplete, but they are still important benefits for kids’ feelings of stability. Are there ways you could do more in those areas to create a secure home environment?
- Check your expectations for your child. Are they reasonable? Do you need to cut him a break more often? Or maybe hold him accountable more for his behavior?
- Learn to expect some off-the-wall behavior and comments from your kids. Deal with them appropriately, but make sure you stay patient and keep your poise.
- Listen attentively when your child is talking to you—without racing to “the point” or tuning out if he or she rambles. Demonstrate that you’re always there to hear whatever she has to say.
- Be the one who initiates fun times with your kids—especially when the stresses of life are threatening to take over the atmosphere of your family.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization seeking toimprove the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. We encourage you to help us change the culture of fathering in America by joining the Championship Fathering Team. You can also sign up for Carey’s weekly email tips by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.