Heads up, Dads (and Moms)
- Written by NANCY WILLIAMS
This month brings a special day to honor fathers: men who have the privilege and responsibility of providing for, educating, protecting, guiding, challenging and encouraging children. In this day, when they are bombarded with countless influences, some positive and some dangerous, children from infants to adults need to know where to turn for sound guidance. Who will lead them down the right path? Who will be there to walk alongside and offer a hand when they need help? Who will caution them if they stray off course? Who will love them unconditionally; reflecting the same love God has for us as his children? Fathers have been given the task of playing this important role in the lives of children; so we encourage dads to embrace that role and do all they can to raise them up to be successful adults. We charge them with the task of being the leader of their home and positive role model of a balanced, responsible individual. A marvelous opportunity, and yet a serious responsibility. I know many of you dads are stepping up to the plate and accepting the challenge. You’ve set your course with determination to be successful in your role. I applaud your desire; and I offer a word of caution. If not careful, you can be so focused on providing for your children physically that you miss opportunities to connect with them emotionally and spiritually. As I counsel with adults, I recognize the impact of the father-child relationship on our development. Our connection with the world around us, our efforts to seize opportunities that come our way and our ability to cope with the challenges of life are impacted by that relationship. Even our vision of God as our heavenly father is influenced by the relationship we have with our earthly father. The nurturing instinct often found in mothers lends itself to responding naturally to the needs of their children. Opportunities present themselves frequently to cultivate that connection and influence their lives. Fathers, on the other hand, must be certain they balance the desire to protect and provide for their family along with time to bond with their children and share their life experiences. Dads, here are a few tips to encourage a strong connection between you and your children. Let these suggestions stir your imagination; and consider how you can foster a positive relationship with your children – physically, emotionally and spiritually – no matter what their age. Spend one-on-one time with each of your children. Show interest in and respect for what’s important to them. Encourage them to share their school experiences, discoveries, concerns, successes, even their failures – not just their grades. Receive their thoughts with compassion and give direction, rather than mere judgment. Find an activity that they express interest in and join them. Let the emphasis be on having fun. Let them work along side you – in the garage, around the house, with the car. Teach them what they’ll need to know as they take on those adult responsibilities. Share meals – at the table. Talk to them about financial stewardship. Explain why you have the rules and expectations you have for them. Recognize the power of the first and last thoughts of the day – they set a tone for the day and remain active in your child’s subconscious during the night. Rather than criticism or punishment, let your first and last words be positive affirmation. Hug your children – when they are celebrating, when they are disappointed, and at other times, just because. Be available when they need you. Tell them about God’s love for them and his desires for their lives. Pray with them. Tell them you love them – then show them you mean it, in a way they’ll understand. Heads up, Dads. The clock is ticking and your children are growing up more quickly than you may realize. Amidst the busyness of your own life, look for opportunities and seize those moments to give your children the gift of your active presence – a priceless expression of God’s love through you. A word to Moms: consider how you can offer positive support and encouragement to your husband as he strives to be the father God desires for your children. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor and life coach in Kingwood. Share your comments or request information at www.nancywilliams.net.