If you have been parenting for even a minute, your world has been bombarded with all sorts of advice on what you should do. Good dads know that they are to model love, laughter, and good work ethics. Not only do good dads know these are essential, but we strive to show them to the best of our ability. When one or all of these things seem to take hold in one of our kids, we celebrate. We are thrilled, even a little proud that we could play such a positive role in their overall development as a human being.
But, what about the things we should be doing that aren’t so “good looking” on the surface? Sometimes, dads need to be willing to be what the world might deem “unattractively transparent” so that kids can learn some pretty deep life lessons. It is with this mindset that I think of three things in particular that our kids should see us doing, but often some things that make us feel pretty uncomfortable.
As parents, especially dads, we can have this innate desire to be seen as “superheroes” in the eyes of our young. Always the one with the great advice, the right answer, the solution to any and all problems. Always the one to swoop in and make things look easy. But, is that real life? And, more importantly, will our kids always be in situations where someone else will save the day? Struggle is part of life…real life…any life. If our kids never see us struggle, they will never have the opportunity to see us persevere. The ability to persevere in spite of challenging circumstances is a much-needed skill in order to be successful, but many young people lack it. It’s okay to let your kids see you struggle, as long as they see you persevere through it.
Yup. I said it. Kids should see their dads cry. They also should see them laugh. Maybe not every second of every day, but crying and laughing are part of the emotional coping process. Now, you may not be the crying type and I can’t say I have cried that many times in front of my boys over the past almost 30 years, but they have certainly seen the eyes water on a few occasions. It isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of life. Let the kids know your emotional lights are on, somebody is home, and that somebody knows how to cope with the heartache and joy this life presents.
I will be the first to admit it, before my wife and kids can… I have a hard time saying I am wrong. But, admit I must, for wrong I often am. If you look around, ours is a culture in which many have a hard time conceding fault. Taking responsibility is not something humans tend to want to do. It's critical for our sons and daughters to witness us not only making mistakes, but also owning up to them. We must exhibit the humility necessary to say, “I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me so that we can continue to live and love and work together?” Can you imagine if every person on social media possessed this skill? Our world would forever be changed. And in a good way. Dads, this kind of behavior gives our kids an example and experience to be the kind of adult people that will be skilled to develop deep relationships.
So, as you ponder the things to let your kids see… and not see… remember to let them see you struggle, cry, and apologize. This just might lead to kids who can readily persevere, cope, and humbly get along with everyone else on the planet.
Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at email@example.com
Anytime one of my three children gets in trouble at school, my first question to them is always, “Were you being a leader or a follower today?”
My oldest and only daughter always had an issue with talking in class. Her excuse is always that others were talking to her. I explain she needs to be the leader, and tell the others that they need to wait until class is over to continue the conversation. I don’t know that it ever actually happens, but I try to give her guidance.
When it comes to sports, I have also tried to get my daughter to be more of a vocal leader on her teams. Unfortunately, it’s just not in her nature to speak out. In some ways, she is a great leader, and doesn’t even know it. She shows up each day, works hard, and quietly puts in the work. She leads by example for anyone who is paying attention.
My middle child grew up being a follower. In elementary and middle school when kids “dared him” to do anything, he was up for the challenge. I received a call his first week of junior high school because he walked down the hallway flipping off every camera in the school. I later found out this was done as one such “dare.”
In grade school it was the same thing. We had many conversations about how to be a leader, and less of a follower at school over the years. Once he hit high school something kind of clicked, or maybe he just matured a little, but he has been so much better.
I will say my 8-year-old paid a lot of attention to all those conversations over the years. I have had very few issues with him in school, and get many compliments on his behavior, and how he likes to try to be helpful. It will be interesting to see how he develops his leadership abilities in the future.
I have learned there are many ways of showing leadership, and it's important to point out when your child demonstrates such acts, as a way of reinforcing positive behavior you hope to see more often.
3 Tips for Instilling Leadership Skills in Your Child
The goal of asking questions is to help your child reason and mature with cause and effect thinking. Try your best not to tell them what you think should happen. Focus instead on helping them develop reasoning skills.
For more great insights and tips be sure to subscribe to our Good Dads Podcast, and check out this Developing Leadership Skills podcast where two dads of toddlers join us in the studio to uncover how things they're doing everyday are helping build leadership skills in their young children.
In closing, when you click through and buy lunchbox notes to remind your kids why you love them you'll not only be the coolest dad ever, but Good Dads will also earn from qualifying purchases and that helps us keep the lights on. Thanks for your support - today and always!
Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa, MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
“If your friends ate horse manure, would you?” asked my father. He wondered how likely we would be to do what our friends were doing, to follow the crowd, to run like the lemmings right over a cliff. This was usually in response to something we kids just had to have or activity we wanted to do that he thought was less than sensible.
My husband’s mother was no different from my dad. “At least he wasn’t bearded,” she would say with disgust when describing someone she met back in the 1970s. To her, beards were definitely a sign of some sort of character defect. Only the clean shaven, in her book, gave visible evidence of integrity. I wonder what she would say now about the trend toward facial hair of all lengths and styles on young and old alike. She would probably be less than enthusiastic. She might also object to blue, green and purple hair. It simply wasn’t in her nature to embrace something new.
The fact is, as we age most of us are like this. We hold on to what we know and trust. We resist the new and novel. Knowing this about ourselves does not necessarily make it any easier when our child insists on embracing a new trend. Many parents wonder about the tendency of their kids, especially their preteens and teenagers, to jump on current crazes for a “must have” object or “must do” activity.
It’s not easy to know how to handle the various fashions, fads or identities our kids demand to explore, but there are things things dads and moms can remember that can help.
Embracing various styles or trends is part of life. Adults do it too, hopefully with greater thought and discretion, but they still do it. Do your best to talk with your child about what is going on in his world that you might not understand. Avoid judgment as much as possible. Listen and learn as a foundation for more in-depth conversations about the truly important things in life.
For more great insights and tips be sure to subscribe to our Good Dads Podcast, and check out this Trending with Kids podcast where Josh-the-Dad and his teen daughter discuss some of the current trends including VSCO Girls, Snapchat, Tik Tok, and others.
In closing, this post contains links to a couple of super hip VSCO trend items. When you click through and buy your teens some swag you'll not only be the coolest dad ever, but Good Dads will also earn from qualifying purchases and that helps us keep the lights on. Thanks for your support - today and always!
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Executive Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at email@example.com.