A few weeks ago, my wife and I were in our bedroom talking and our kids were in the room doing their own thing. The next thing we heard was, “Dad, can you come here!” from one of our sons. It didn’t sound like a panic, but there was a seriousness to the tone of his voice.
I could tell he was very concerned about something. I’ve heard that tone before, and typically he doesn’t say what it is he needs, but I know to come and see what’s going on. When I got to the room, it wasn’t an emergency, and most of those instances it’s not. It wasn’t even really a big deal…to us. But to him it was pretty serious, and he needed help.
After resolving the problem, my wife and I began to talk about it, I began to ask myself some questions, and I discovered some things that I believe can help us build our kids’ confidence in us as parents.
Why call out to Dad?
One of the first questions I pondered was why do my kids call me, their dad, about 90% of the time in those situations? Very rarely do they call out to their mom in “serious” situations like that.
We even noticed that our youngest son walks past my wife’s side of the bed and comes to my side of the bed in the middle of the night when he has to use the bathroom. He doesn’t ask me to get up and take him, he just lets me know he’s going to the bathroom. I used to get upset about my sleep being interrupted, but then we figured it out.
We discovered it’s a little scary for him being up alone in the middle of the night, in total darkness. So, he wants me to know he’s awake, and he wants to know I’m awake, in case something happens and he needs me. He’s looking for my protection.
There is no doubt
When our oldest son calls out, what we notice is he has not one ounce of doubt that I’ll come. His tone says it. There is no panic, there is no need for explanation. “Dad, can you come here!” Once I hear that tone, I’m there!
I’d like to say this is because I’ve always responded to his call, but I’m sure there has been a time or two when I didn’t respond, at least not immediately. I think this is part of the reason, but not all of it.
My track record, my history says to my kids, “I’m here for you.” But I also think, my kids just believe this is what dads do. But where does this belief come from? How do you develop a track record that says to your kids, “my dad will be here when I need him?” That’s how we give our kids confidence in us as parents.
5 ways to give our kids confidence in us as parents:
- Say I love you. This seems obvious, but it can sometimes be forgotten. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking “my kids know I love them, so I don’t need to say it.” That’s wrong thinking. Saying “I love you” regularly, and not just when they do something worth loving, assures them you really do. It gives them confidence in themselves, and confidence in you.
- Play with your kids. With the level of organized sports and activities today, it’s easy to be so busy that “play” becomes work. But nothing can replace just playing with them for fun. Playing in the yard, playing board games (or even video games), playing “rhyme time” (one of our favorites), or anything else you can think of. Your relationship grows deeper each time you play, and so does their confidence in you.
- Work with your kids. At one point I was the primary teacher for our daughter. This is not typical as most moms handle the education, especially in homeschooling families. But for the first two years that our daughter was homeschooled I was her teacher. We formed a bond, grew our relationship and deepened our confidence in each other. Doing chores and yard work can provide the same benefit of giving your kids confidence in you.
- Protect your kids. There are some obvious ways to protect your kids, like running off a dog, keeping them from running into a busy street, or holding them up while learning to ride their bike. But I believe one of the best forms of protection is praying for and with them. For my kids, although I’m pretty cool, tough, and bad in their eyes (their words, not mine…maybe), and I tell them “I know everything because I’m a dad,” they know I have limitations. But there is one Dad (God) who doesn’t have limitations. Knowing I speak to Him on their behalf, and we speak to Him together, gives them a level of peace, and confidence that they can’t get from anything else.
- Discipline your kids. While it’s not always fun, disciplining your kids will yield great benefits and give them confidence in you. In fact, neglecting to discipline your kids can actually be detrimental to them. The Book of Proverbs says, young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.
Building confidence takes consistency
It’s good to do the things listed above once or twice, but it’s great to do them consistently. That consistency is what gives my son the confidence that when he needs me, when he calls out to me, that I will be there for him. He believes it because I’ve done it in so many other ways.
Imagine what will happen when you, I, and all the other dads who read this post consistently say “I love you” to our kids. Consistently play with them. Regularly work with them and protect them. And love them enough to be consistent in our discipline.
Imagine the confidence our kids will have in us today, while living in our household, and even after they’ve become adults and left our homes to start their own families. As we do this, we’ll have stronger relationships with our kids, and stronger families.
[reminder]What is one thing you can do this week to help build your kids’ confidence in you as a parent?[/reminder]