Father's day message- When my son was nine, we were watching a baseball game together on television. As the camera panned over the cheering fans, he asked me why the kids in the stands were so excited. I said that the players are heroes to those kids. I suggested that someday one of those players might be his hero. He paused and said, "They may be my hero someday, but you will always be my first hero." The message was clear -- we are our children's first heroes, whether we want that responsibility or not.
Seven Father's day tips to regain or maintain our hero status
1) Celebrate victories. Celebrate achievements and victories by taking your child for an ice cream or slice of pizza. Don't immediately run to the next dilemma -- take time to enjoy with your family what's been accomplished first. What may seem like a victory to them may not be a victory to you. Celebrate their victories.
2) Confer regularly with your Inner Child. When our children struggle, stop and think about what you wanted to hear from your father at that age. Let that compassion shape what you say and how you say it.
3) Be curious. Be interested in your children's lives, asking them how their doing, what's new with them, what computer sites they view, and who their friends are. By being curious we give them the message they are important and we're thinking of them. They may not like it now but in time they will understand that your curiousness was because they matter to you.
4) Monitor your Inner Critic. If we grew up with an Inner Critic telling us all the things we're doing wrong in life, chances are high we will give this Inner Critic to our children. We need to take responsibility, find out what was damaged in us so we can silence our own Inner Critic and become mindful of behaviors that could passing this intrusive voice down to our children. We can't expect our children to take responsibility for their actions if we are not responsible for our.
5) Choose your battles. There are times when we need to relinquish our need to be right in our conversations with our children, and instead choose closeness. Instead of telling them what they're doing wrong, we can choose to be close by identifying with our children's struggles and listening to their feelings. The best way to get our children to listen to us at times may be if we are able to listen to them.
6) Permit mistakes. Give your children the message that they can make mistakes in life. Let them know that mistakes are part of being human. Affirm that they can fail at times without becoming a failure. If we deny our children compassion when they stumble, we negate their humanness. If they lose compassion for themselves they will lose compassion for others as well. Teach them to look at the opportunity they can gain by their mistakes. What did they learn?
7) Provide a safe environment for your children where they can cry on your shoulder or talk to you, even if they tell you something you don't want to hear. If our children don't feel safe sharing their struggles with us, then they may find the wrong people to share their struggles with.
The good news is, even if we as fathers received distorted messages in our own childhoods, we can still give our children the healthy messages denied to us. My father gave me the message that if I made enough money, all my problems would disappear. Yet, in adulthood, I never understood why I felt so sad when I witnessed a dad playing with his son and why this created such sadness within me as an adult. I was grieving a childhood I never had, and I didn't want my children to be deprived of the childhood they deserved.
As an adult, I learned to give my kids what my own father hadn't been able to give me -- to be their hero. I supplied guidance to my children when they needed it, but I also gave them a shoulder to cry on and an ear to hear their feelings and thoughts as well.
Heroes can cry too, even if society tells them real men shouldn't show their true feelings. When things didn't go their way, my kids felt safe enough to share their struggles with me.
Heroes let their children explore who they want to be, instead of imprisoning them in predefined roles -- roles we as parents want them to play. My children can face the world with confidence and know I am here if they should stumble.