A number of fathers have told us that as the pressures build, they have a hard time maintaining balance in their lives. How do you release the pressure and regain perspective? How do you unlock a larger view for your children? How do you make sure you earn your kids’ respect without demanding it? How do you make it clear that showing respect is honoring the home, the comforts, the conveniences and the things you work hard to provide?
Steps to Recovery
Be deliberate and decisive. Make a conscious effort to separate home from work. Don’t bring work stress into your relationships at home. Sit in your car a few extra minutes. Clear your mind and focus on the importance of your family.
Be present and pay attention! While you won’t make every event, go to some important ones. Your attendance and attentiveness build closeness and enhance respect on both ends.
Be open. Let your teen know she can talk to you about anything. She may not take you up on your offer immediately, but she’ll know the door is open.
Be quiet. If your teen takes you up on your open-door policy, be a good listener. Every conversation is not a request for your opinion. Every problem is not yours to fix.
Be consistent. Explain your expectations and why they are important. Arbitrary rules turn teens off. They are much more willing to obey if they understand the reason.
Be understanding rather than judgmental. Hear your teen’s story from his or her point of view. Let your teen be an individual.
Be complimentary. Let your teen know when you’re proud of something he or she has done. “You did really well on that paper.” Punctuate it with a smile or hug.
Be encouraging. Cheer for your teen. Be positive when he or she shares hopes, dreams and ideas.
Be loving. This may be the toughest of all because we dads fall for all that macho mumbo-jumbo. It takes real toughness to be tender.
The big payoff
Ah, it seems just like yesterday! The son received a list of chores. Dad conducted inspection. Liberation came only after inspection was passed with flying colors. Some years later, Bill received this card:
Thank you for being the greatest dad and giving me those chores to do. All of your encouragement, support and guidance has made all the difference in my life, especially now as I am making the transition from dependent to being truly independent and self sufficient. I have learned so much from you and I still am. For that I am eternally grateful. I know you and mom sacrifice a lot to allow me to do things and I appreciate it so much. Maybe someday I’ll have kids and I can do the same for them.
That’s what it’s all about.