With Father’s Day around the corner it got me thinking about how fathers have to strike the balance between being both tough and tender. How dads ‘are’ with their children has a massive influence on how they will value and respect themselves down the line.
When children are able to trust both their dads’ toughness and tenderness, these are just some of the benefits: Raised confidence levels
- A sense of security
- How to be male (in boys)
- How to allow yourself to be treated by men (in girls)
- How to express emotions in a healthy way (in boys)
The PAPPA effect
While we all use different terms of endearment for the fathers in our lives, I’ve used the term Pappa as an acronym below for effective fathering:
P………Present: This means emotional and physical presence and being really ‘in the moment’ when you are with your kids. Actually, many dads to this better than mums because dads are not quite so good at multitasking. The upside is that when they are with their kids they are often more focused.
A………Available: Don’t be so busy that your kids think you don’t care. I always remember the heart-wrenching Chicken Soup for the Soul story of the boy who found out how much his dad’s time was worth per hour at work, and saved up enough to buy an hour of his dad’s time.
P………Proud: Teach kids to value themselves by valuing and believing in them. Show pride in both their achievements and their journey in getting there, even it if is a place in the D team! And please, please don’t live vicariously through your children. It is an unfair burden to expect them to perform so that you feel good about yourself. If your attention and affection is performance-based you are not striking the right balance between tough and tender. Your children are not you and may never become a clone of you. Love them for who they are, not what you expect them to be.
P……….Protective: Dads are a symbol of physical and emotional security and they are often less easy to manipulate than mums when it comes to implementing boundaries. While you may be the family ‘fixer’ on many levels because you get things sorted, your role is also to teach your children to become resourceful and resilient in themselves, to learn independence, little by little. These are the tools they will use to create their own happiness and success one day.
A………Attentive: Pay attention. Listen. Talk and share. Do things together – dates with your daughters and adventures with your sons. Always, and in every moment, strive to be a celebration and example of positive human connection.
How was your dad with you?
Dads, here is a little introspective exercise for you which may reveal what your own children most desperately long for in their relationship with you. Take a look at the questions below:
- What did you need from your father that he gave you?
- What did you need but didn’t receive?
- How did his positive input help you to succeed?
- How did the negative aspects possibly set a series of consequences into motion that you may still experience?
I am so grateful to my own dad for the pivotal role he has played and continues to play in my life. The quote below says it all for me and I hope it sums it up for you too.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.”
Dads, here’s wishing you a very happy Father’s Day. May you be celebrated, honoured and adored and keep aiming to strike the balance between being tough and tender.
My gift to you
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