Father's Day: A Day for Dads
“Dad, wake up its Daddy’s day”, said my 3 year old daughter as she prised my eyes open at 7:30am. Not that I had forgotten as she excitedly asked me every morning in the week leading up to the special day, even telling me about the secret card she had made in preschool. It’s my 3rd Father’s Day and all I can think about is a lie-in, a cooked breakfast, the secret card (which I’ve already been made aware of) and the present I’ll be receiving.
But then it hit me; Father’s Day isn’t just about me and tangible items that end up in the garage. It’s a day of resolution to be the best dad I can be. It then got me thinking about what gift I can give instead….
The gift of paying attention
You probably love to tell others what’s important to you – your great golf shot, the fabulous method you have for cooking a perfect steak, or how you landed that big deal at work. Children have their own things that are important to them, and they’ll eagerly tell you, sometimes in great detail, as long as they know you’re listening. And they always know when you’re not!
I’m not talking about being silent while your child babbles on excitedly and you’re secretly browsing on your iPad or watching Sky Sports. I mean truly listening. This reminds me of a great quote:
“Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” ~ Catherine M. Wallace
Let questions be your gift
Think that you can’t do it? It might be a little tough to get started, especially if you’re a new parent or if you’re not used to engaging with your children this way.
Here are some questions to help you get started:
Ask open-ended questions. How, Who, Why, When, What or Where (pick only one!). They are great for letting your children take the conversation in their direction.
Ask how the experience they’re sharing made them feel.
Ask opinion-seeking questions to learn what they liked about the experience, or what would have made it better. These show that you value their views and can also help them evaluate the experience for themselves.
Seek their advice about how you should act or what you should do if you encounter that kind of situation. Not only will they feel grown up, their answers help you understand how they interpret the situation and can open the door to deeper conversations when necessary. They also learn how to advise themselves on similar matters in the future, because they’ll remember your conversations. In time, they’ll even imagine themselves telling you about things as those things are happening.
And a few more ways you can keep them talking:
Give them recognition. We all need recognition. Affirm they handled it well, or did a good job, or that next time they’ll have the experience or wisdom to make a different choice.
Give them absolution. Particularly in difficult situations, give them implicit forgiveness because they couldn’t have known or done differently, or acted better, and that mistakes happen no matter our intentions.
The gift of time and undivided attention for a few minutes every day will show your child you are a great, attentive dad, you’ll recognise how awesome they are, and they’ll grow up understanding they are esteemed, confident in their abilities to handle life, and imbued with self-respect. Could you ever ask for a better gift?
Happy Father’s Day!
Written by guest blogger, Mike Blake