My son, Samuel, turned 7 last week. He is in first grade and has been having a rough year. He is often emotional, irrational, and unpredictable. I believe that these are normal things that children go through and that he is experiencing a common stage of life. I want him to learn how to deal with all of the emotions that are going on in his mind as well as how to deal with the things he sees and experiences on a daily basis at school, home, and church.
I don’t immediately make the leap that there is something wrong. It’s on my mind a lot, but I don’t worry that there’s something deeper going on here than a seven year old dealing with new things in life. I don’t think that my wife and I need to take drastic measures to address his behaviors and lapses in judgement.
But, I have found one secret that seems to help him better handle the things that come his way. I have discovered one thing that leads to him dealing with life in a more healthy way. And, it’s a secret that everyone can institute – even today!
What’s the secret?
It’s my presence in his life. That’s it. Just me being present.
The evidence is clear. When I have a week off from work, we don’t deal with as many behavioral issues from him. It’s not even close. And, the inverse is true. When I have a week at work where I work very full days – days where I see my kids in the morning before work and then I don’t see them until the next day – his attitude goes south quickly.
Why is this?
I believe there are many reasons why my presence has a direct correlation to his behavior. But, here are just a few thoughts:
- I am a unique voice in his life. My wife is an awesome mother. She excels way better as a mother than I ever could as a father. She speaks wisdom often into the lives of our children. The impact that I have is that I am able to look at things differently than her. I am a different person with different experiences and different perspectives. My voice can help change the direction of a conversation simply because I see it differently than my wife, or my kids’ teachers, or their friends. My voice is unique and that makes it valuable.
- Kids, especially sons, need their dad. This is even more true during the first 5 years of their life – the formative years. Of course there are many single moms out there trying to fill this void for their children and doing it fabulously. But, there’s nothing quite like a dad in the life of a child. Sons are able to interact with dads in a way that moms just can’t. Daughters are connected to their dad in a way that determines, in large measure, the success of future relationships for her.
- I fulfill a role for my children that my wife doesn’t. I wrestle with my kids often. My wife posted a picture of me, on my lunch break, at home “throwing” my son on the couch. It’s what I do. It’s the role that I fill for my kids. I am also the gamester in our house. When my kids want to play a game or talk about a cartoon they watched recently – it’s me that they usually run to. For my wife and me, this isn’t about gender as much as it is about roles that we’ve naturally assumed/chosen over the years.
- When I’m absent, they miss me. Ok, this one may sound overly simplistic. But, I’ve structured my home in a way that communicates to my kids that they can count on their dad. Dad is involved. Dad will be there. They get used to me being there. They like talking to me. They like playing with me. And, when I’m not there for long stretches of time, there is something significant missing in their lives. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The challenge for me is to find the balance between work and home. Being present for my children is a goal I have that I would like to succeed at more and more over the year. It’s a pretty simple way to fix a lot of the problems that we see in society today – a present dad. Not just by being there, but by also being engaged.
Have you noticed this with your child(ren)? What have you found to be successful ways to be more present in your kids’ lives? Comment below and let us know…