Thoughtful Parenting: Getting to know Dad
As Father’s Day approaches, we prepare to show our gratitude to all the responsible and nurturing fathers in our community. The research is clear: There is no substitute for a father’s presence, care and support. Fathers who are positively engaged in the lives of their children can enhance their children’s success in the areas of social skills, mental health and academic performance.
We know it is important for nurturing fathers to take the time to know their children, but it is also important that fathers allow their children an opportunity to really know them. This means more than just sharing surface details of your life. Rather, it means sharing who you are on a deeper level, such as fears, dreams, influences, aspirations and so on.
Some men had great openness and communication with their own fathers and excel at continuing that tradition with their children. However, for men who had fathers who were hard to get to know on a personal level or who grew up without a father involved in their lives, it can be challenging to know just how to open up.
So how do you go about sharing deeper aspects of yourself with your children? First, always make sure information shared is appropriate for your child to hear and does not make him or her feel uncomfortable or cause stress, confusion or embarrassment.
Then, one strategy is to share something from when you were the age your child is now. What was your most memorable school memory? Who was your best friend? What were your feelings and experiences fitting in with other kids? How old were you when you had your first crush? What was your most embarrassing moment? Who was your favorite teacher, and why? You can also find opportunities to share your thoughts and feelings about what you’re presently up to in your work, hobby or other areas of your life. What do you like most or least about your job? What was the best part of your day and why?
A good time to have these conversations is at the dinner table or in the car — or any other time you are together with no distractions. Have these conversations gradually to avoid overwhelming your child, and don’t forget to encourage your child to also share details about his or herself.
Taking the time to have these conversations will be one of the best investments you can make in your relationship with your child.
Happy Father’s Day!
Susan Phillips is the coordinator for the Fatherhood Program of Routt County. She can be reached at 970-870-5289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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