One thing can sap the strength from any good man—fear.
Dads in particular seem to struggle with fear. I’m not a dad, but I talk to a lot of you and there’s one theme that continues to arise. That is, you know what you want to do as far as your kids are concerned, but something stops you.
You know how you want your kids to talk in your home but you hold back from telling them (or reprimanding them) because you are afraid that if you do, you will drive them away from you. This isn’t true.
Many dads come to me and begin a conversation with the following, “I know I’m probably not doing a very good job with my kids, but I have a question.” Before they ask their question, I try to stop them.
“Why do you say that you’re not doing a very good job?” I ask. Nine times out of ten, they look at me with a blank stare like I live on another planet.
Of course they’re doing a bad job, they think, because that’s what they hear from people around them.
WIVES JOIN POP CULTURE IN REGARDING DAD AS CLUELESS AND GOOFY
Movies depict dads as stupid, Father’s Day cards remind them that they drink too much beer and hog the remote control, and we wives can be pretty cruel too. We who are married to our children’s fathers often communicate that we’ve got the child-rearing thing covered and we don’t need help—at least when it comes to telling our kids how to dress, what friends to have, and what time their curfew should be. The bottom line is “we” who surround good men say, in no uncertain terms, that the job they are doing leaves a lot to be desired.
So why shouldn’t dads stifle their instincts? We have taught them to be afraid of their beliefs, feelings, and intuition when it comes to their kids. Doubt everything, we teach, because they are men and, well, there are some things that they should simply be quiet about—especially when it comes to child-rearing.
The truth is, there are awesome fathers out there and many of you who are reading this are those dads. The problem is, you just don’t feel like it. You doubt your beliefs, your dreams for your kids, and your expectations of what life should be like with them. Here’s another truth: your kids need you to push away your fears of doing things wrong and move toward—not away—from them.
If you have a thirteen-year-old who shudders when you hug her, laugh a little, and tell her that you are going to put her in “hug training.” Repeat as necessary until she stops shuddering. Maybe you have an out-of-control, tantrum-throwing two-year-old who has his mother wrapped around his little finger, and it’s driving you crazy. Pick him up during one of the tantrums and make him stay in his room.
I see fathers whose children speak to them like they are sub-human because they want their kids to have “freedom” to express themselves. I get this, but what about your right as a dad not to be spoken to like an idiot (especially by a five-year-old)?
You get it. You, great dads, struggle with some fear in your parenting somewhere. You know that parenting from fear never leads anywhere good, so give it up. Face it.
DITCH THE FEAR, DADS
Get rid of it and ask God to help you overcome it because your kids want you back in a bigger way. And they need you.