My friend is a great dad.
He loves his kids and is careful to give them the attention, affection, and respect they deserve.
It isn’t always easy for him but he is patient (an acquired/acquiring skill for many of us) and is willing to adjust as needed.
When asked how he learned to be such a good dad he was reluctant to answer. Not because he didn’t want to share – he is convinced the principles he follows work – he simply didn’t want to offend anyone who might have chosen another way.
With some cajoling he eventually divulged the genesis of his inspiration (weird way of saying I convinced him to tell me even though he didn’t want to).
Seems his dad was one of THOSE dads. You know. The kind who, when asked ‘why?’ by their kids replied, BECAUSE I SAID SO!!
My friend never liked the results of the answer so he determined to follow another path in dealing with his own kids. But it took some pondering and a lot of trial and error before he discovered his secret method.
I’m going to share it with you.
So it won’t be secret anymore.
Well, at least not from the 7 people who read this blog.
It all starts with a simple declaration.
1. I will always love you.
No matter what you do, no matter how old you get and despite any efforts to the contrary you may decide to make in your life, I WILL love you.
When children are young, it is easier to convince them. They have nothing to compare with so they believe. But as they grow and become aware of the rest of the universe, it is critical that they are constantly reminded that they are loved – completely and deeply – by their parents.
Love is the great binding agent for families.
2. Because I love you, I want you to be happy.
Few people become parents in order to torture their offspring (I know some teens think otherwise but statistics can be made up to prove otherwise). The vast majority of parents have the innate desire to love their children. Reinforcing that principle with the ‘young-uns’ in the house will provide great dividends in helping them be more receptive to direction – tell them that you love them.
A little knowledge really helps.
3. In order to be happy, we must know the decisions/choices that will bring happiness.
A public survey conducted by random children found that eleven out of ten parents spend their days plotting to make decisions designed to impose misery on their children (see my note on statistics above).
Mom and dad ‘afflict’ their children’s lives to teach them the choices that will invite pleasant results. Training young children to stay out of the street is not to protect cars or reduce insurance costs – it is to save a beloved son or daughter from a life-threatening badchoice (new word I just made up).
Again, as young people grow in ability and age they are inclined to think ‘teachings’ are restrictions to make them miserable. They fail to recognize that the greater number of rules and guidelines are intended to eliminate misery and increase happiness. When mom and dad explain the purpose for rules/guidelines, it doesn’t eliminate contention but it does build on a level of trust which leads to greater love.
4. To make good choices, you have to know the result each choice brings.
This is also called “The Law of Consequences.” The job of a parent is to open the eyes of their children to the full impact of choices that will confront them. My friend is careful to explain the complete package when his children are considering different options – the good and the bad. Then they aren’t surprised (at least not as much) when less than desirable events occur.
Unfortunately, teaching, training, coaching, or whatever you want to call it is only permanent if there is a transition from the brain to the heart. It is one thing to know something, and a totally different thing to KNOW it.
No matter how well prepared parents are, there will always be circumstances that require special attention. Decisions have to be made that are not appreciated or completely understood. That is when step 5 can be implemented.
5. Sometimes you just have to trust me. Remember, I love you and will never do anything to cause you pain or misery.
I know, this sounds a lot like “Because I said so.”
Trust is an integral part of love.
“I said so” is often selfish and devoid of love. Little has been built to hold it up. Trust has a framework that allows for difficult experiences.
I have considered these steps and found that I believe there is truth in them.
Let me add one personal addendum to the list.
When a situation gets hard and I am ready to give up, I am often halted by a phrase that pops into my mind. It always puts me back on the track. I know the source and I recognize the voice. It says:
Is that how I treat you?
And the answer is always NO.
Love first, and always.