What are your plans for Valentine’s Day this weekend? While you’re planning that special gift, gesture, and/or date, it’s also good to remember that you’re still a father.
If you view your teenager’s romantic relationships as an area in which you should not be involved, recent research indicates that there’s a better approach, as reported by Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal.
According to the studies, the opposite-sex relationships that kids form in their teens have a surprising influence on their development. Even more significant for us, young people tend to have healthier relationships when their parents are available and willing to provide guidance in this area — not that we pry or try to control them, but we’re there to listen and offer advice when they ask for it. Read more.
Along with gently coaching our children in this area, we are key models for our children of how a husband should treat his wife, as Carey Casey describes in his book, Championship Fathering. When you serve your bride, “your children will be watching …. They’ll be ‘catching’ it in ways they may not even be aware of. They won’t think, I’ll have to remember this for later. But someday they’ll do something for their spouse and it will dawn on them: This is just what Dad used to do for Mom. Watching the way you treat their mother will create an invisible but indelible record in their hearts and minds.”
This week, Carey added: “I have a friend, a successful guy in Texas, who told me, ‘I never saw my mother and dad kiss until I saw her lean over his casket and kiss him after he had died.’ What a missed opportunity! But I’m thankful that my Pop wasn’t afraid to show how he felt about Mom. I remember how I felt when I saw my dad hug Mom, or when he would do something special trying to win her favor. It was thrilling for me to see that, and maybe that’s why I’m so big on encouraging all dads to show affection and be thoughtful toward their brides in front of their children. Give those hugs. Hold hands with her. Hold doors open. (Dads today don’t do these things enough.) Have fun and be creative in coming up with ways to show her love and respect.”
This is part of your role, dad. How you show love to your bride — at Valentine’s Day and all year long — sets a great example for your kids.
- Be intentional about spending “down time” with your teenager, or time working on something together. Show that you care and you’re available if and when he needs to talk.
- Do you object to your child’s choice in a dating relationship? Instead of giving a mandate that she break it off — which would likely drive her even closer to that person — provide your feedback on what you see that worries you, and trust your child to see it eventually and make a wise decision.
- This Valentine’s Day, ask your children what qualities they’re looking for in a future spouse.
- Tune into something small that your wife enjoys — a particular type of chocolate, coffee, flower, music, etc. Set up reminders for yourself to give her a small token gift regularly throughout the year.
- Are you a divorced dad? It’s still important for you to model respect toward your kids’ mom and other women. Encourage them to honor her in a creative way during the next few weeks.