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Dads, Here’s What Your Child Really Thinks About You

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Dr. Meg Meeker

If I ask most fathers if they feel like a hero, they normally say, “No, of course not. I’ve never really done anything brave or heroic.”  

But if you ask a child who her hero is, she will most likely say, “My dad!” To children, their father is larger than life.

Recent research reveals that dads are spending more time than ever with their children. And yet, only 39 percent of dads said they feel they are doing a good job at parenting. Men, you must understand that your children view you very differently than you view yourself.

Because you are larger than life in your child’s eyes, whatever you do with them, whatever time you spend with them is magnified in their minds. For example, if you took them to the park once a month when they were small, when they are grown up and looking back over their childhood, their memory will tell them you took them to the park three to five times a month. In a child’s eyes, time with you, Dad, becomes magnified. The time you invest with your children has a far bigger impact on them than it does on you. Remember that.

I don’t say this to put pressure on you. The good news about being a hero dad is that you are already hardwired to be one. You don’t have to do much to maintain hero status in your child’s eyes. Just keep a couple of simple things in mind.

Hero dads are careful with their words.

Dad’s words can make or break a child. When you tell your child something, she will internalize it as truth. If you tell her she’s strong, she will think she is strong. If you tell her she’s brave, she will believe she’s brave. You have the power to build up your child’s character simply by using your words.

Hero dads lead, instead of coach.

There’s a big difference between a coach and a leader. Coaches can teach skills and encourage their execution, but it’s a leader who brings vision, which is another way of saying a moral framework for how life is to be lived. Coaching is necessary at times. Leadership is needed all the time.

Dads, I hope you feel like the hero you were made to be on this Father’s Day. Even if you don’t see yourself this way, know that your child does. Let that be more than enough to convince you of the same.

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