With Father's Day arriving in less than a week, here's some good advice for dads (and moms): Ask your children, "Am I the dad/mom you need me to be?" Kids' perceptions of how their parents behave make more of an impact than the actual behavior.
Think about how your parents raised you. Even if your mom or dad was kind and loving, if there was a behavior from a parent that you perceived as too much or not enough, wasn't that the thing that bothered you most when you were growing up? How true is this for you?
Often in therapy (or in any work we do within ourselves) we deal with the behaviors that went missing or were overbearing from our parents. This especially shows up in our intimate relationships. Checking in with our own history, and making peace with it, helps us be better parents and have the courage to ask the question of our children: "Am I the parent you need me to be? How can I support you better?"
Here's a link to the interesting study that explored the impact of dads across cultures:
Study Suggests Fathers Should Ask Kids: 'Am I the Dad You Need Me to Be?'
Bottom line is that the emotional engagement of dads is important. How securely moms are engaged is important, too--it's just that often this is more natural for moms than dads. Additionally, there is an innate sense of males as authority figures, so when the men in a child's life are healthily interactive and supportive, the child grows up with a more balanced sense of authority, and therefore of him- or herself.
Thanks, all you engaged dads, and happy Father's Day in advance!
(For a special gift for Dad this year, let him know how important his input is by giving the gift of parenting support! Sign him up here for Love and Logic with Lynn!)
Helpful Parenting Sites: