Happy Father’s Day
First off, to all the dads, Happy Father’s Day! Today we honor the importance of your presence in your children’s lives. Kids with good dads are lucky kids. This year, my husband’s card says, “It takes a strong man to be such a sweet dad.”
Remember the toilet paper add for “Stroft” tp? Strong and soft. Perfect for Father’s Day. (Just in case you want a flashback to the commercial, here’s a link.)
Undoubtedly, I see a lot of dads in my practice. Partners struggle over the perennial battle of how soft and connecting vs how stern and strict to be with their kids. It’s a tough struggle because both parents feel like they are standing up for what will make their kids the happiest, healthiest adults possible.
The Best Thing I’ve heard a dad say
Last month, I heard the best thing I’ve heard a dad say. He and his partner were talking about when their 3-year-old son is upset and looking for his loves and wants daddy’s help. Whereas, the dad didn’t want to over-help and disable his son from working to solve his own problems.
And at the same time, he didn’t want to be too hands-off-ish by making the boy look all alone when he was asking for help. The dad told me that he said to his son, “Hold my hand and we’ll do it together.” I about jumped out of my chair to do my “Therapist Happy Dance.”
Let’s Figure This Out Together
Wow! That is so beautiful. What wisdom! He is sending the message that Daddy is present. Available. Connected. Loving. His son is learning that it’s ok to come to Dad for help. And the dad is also sending the message that the son needs to be part of solving his own problem. Not disabling, not disconnecting. Fast forward into the future to when this boy is a teenager and has messed up big.
I’m betting that he will still go to his dad, who will say, “Let’s figure this out together.” Not taking over, not judging him for the problem he created, but simply there by his side. This guy deserves a shout-out. (Too bad I can’t share the names of my clients.)
If you are stymied by how much to help your kids, what if you experiment with trying, “Hold my hand and we’ll do it together?” For a teen, that might be converted to, “I see how hard this is and I’m here with you. What ideas do you have?” Granted, this needs to be changed based on our kids’ abilities. It doesn’t mean they never do a chore by themselves. So, here goes my version of the best thing I’ve heard a dad say.
The Beautiful Approach to Solve Bigger Problems
Think of it more than an approach to solving bigger problems. I think the same is true for partners. I love it when my husband lets me know he’s “in it” with me. Not taking over; not leaving me all on my own to solve tough problems. That approach makes me feel connected, cared for, and respected.
So, how does this land with you? Is it a stretch to move in and say, “Let’s do it together?” Or is it a stretch to put the responsibility back on your kid? If you are often uncertain, welcome! Welcome to the club of parents who are thinking about how to show up for their kids.
Welcome to the club of parents who aren’t just reacting in default mode based on how they were raised. If you are uncertain sometimes, please give yourself a hug, because you are being thoughtful about your parenting. Wouldn’t it be an honor to have your kids grow up and say to you, “I appreciate how much thought you gave to how you parented me”