As a father, I’m sure there are things that you wish you knew about your children; so let me help you out. As a ‘professional’ listener of children for 30 years now, I have learned a lot about them. Your children want and need a lot from you but those needs and wants might surprise you. Let’s look at a few.
- Your children want your company, not nicer clothes, a newer phone or a bigger house. Why is this? Because children are fundamentally self-centered and being with you makes then feel valuable. When your children mow the lawn beside you, help you run errands or chop wood, they watch how you respond to them. If they see that you enjoy their company they feel more respectable and more self-confident. Nicer clothes, playing soccer better or living in a bigger home can’t give them self-confidence like spending time with you can.
- Being with you is the best safeguard against the “big” trouble in life. That’s right. Children who live with their fathers are at lower risk for drinking, being sexually active, depressed or getting into trouble at school. The flip side is this: living with you helps your children get better grades, have a higher self esteem, be happier and be less anxious to name a few. The bottom line is that you are great for you kids.
- You make your children (even when they are teenagers) feel safe. This might sound trite, but it is quite important. Certainly our goal as parents is to help children make their own way and live independently, but developmentally, children have a need to feel safe. When they see their father protect them, they believe that they are worth protecting. When a daughter hears her father tell a guy who wants to date her “no”, she feels good about herself (On the surface, she will appear furious, but down deep, she feels loved.) In fact, having a father present decreases a girl’s chances of getting taken into sex trafficking because girls feel safe (and in fact are safer) when their fathers are around.
You can see by this short list that there is one extremely important fact about your children that you must know: they need you, dads. Not just to make sure they get on the right football team, get better grades or have the nicest clothes in the class. They need something far more serious. They need life. You not only give them life, but throughout their childhood, you also save them over and over. You keep them away from the bad stuff, help them stay on the high road and yes, there are times when you literally save their lives by simply being their dads.
This Father’s Day, celebrate your influence. There is plenty around to tell you that you don’t matter that much and that you can easily be replaced by your child’s mother or grandfather. Don’t believe them. You are your child’s one and only father. And the two who know the significance of this most clearly are you and your child.