Commitments for the New Year
What do you do as a father to strengthen your
relationship with your kids? How can you make the
limited time you have with them as meaningful as
Here are three gift ideas to consider:
The Gift of Discipline:
The term discipline is often misunderstood. It
comes from the Latin word "discipulus" and means a
follower of truth, principle, or a venerated
Disciplining your kids doesn't mean punishing
Your kids won't learn to follow truth and
principle when they're being punished. They'll
learn to resent you and learn the principle that
"might makes right." In the case of fathers who
strike or spank their kids, your kids will learn to
fear you. Is that really what you want?
A more effective way of disciplining your kids
is to model self-control yourself and to utilize
time outs. The use of time outs is not a method of
punishment, it's an opportunity for your child to
work through their feelings and to be ready to
resume their activities.
Using time outs in a non-punitive way fosters
security in your kids by teaching them that when
they can't control their feelings, their parents
will keep them safe.
My children taught me the ineffectiveness of
punishment years ago when I would tell them to "sit
here" for their time out. They would sit down for a
brief moment and then they'd get up and go
somewhere else. Were they defying me or were they
No, they were just saving face and asserting
their own power of choice. After awhile I gave up
this battle; it wasn't that much fun to run after
them and catch them, anyway!
Your kids need firm boundaries that are enforced
consistently and lovingly. They need limited
They don't need to be punished.
The Gift of Acceptance
While it's true that fathers are improving in
the area of acceptance of their kids feelings,
there is still work to be done for most
One of the most important things a father can do
is to accept and try to understand their child's
feelings. Psychologist Dr. Haim G. Ginott, who
wrote the popular book, "Between Parent and Child,"
wrote "When children are in the midst of strong
emotions, they cannot accept advice or consolation
or constructive criticism. They want us to know
what is going on inside of them."
For you fathers out there who'd like to
improve--It helps your kids when you're aware of
what they're feeling! Even when you don't know what
they're feeling, fake it!
In other words, "Would you stop crying right
now!" is probably not effective.
"You seem really sad right now," would be a much
more effective response.
It may be helpful to remember that kids' brains
are not as well-equipped to control emotions as
ours are. What they need is parents who try to
understand and who accept their emotions-no matter
how unreasonable they may seem to you.
Fathers don't have to agree with their kids
feelings. To be a more effective father, you just
have to make an effort to be "with them" in their
feelings. A simple statement ("that must be
upsetting for you") can mean all the difference in
On the other hand, demanding that your kids
change their feelings or stop feeling a certain way
is guaranteed to create more distance between the
two of you. It also reflects on your own insecurity
and increases the chances of your child becoming
What seems like a more effective choice to
The Gift of Time
We live in an unusual time. Never before have
fathers been as busy at work and at home. There are
still alarming statistics that come out about the
state of the American family, in particular when
fathers are not involved in family life.
For instance, according to the Index of Leading
Cultural Indicators, teenagers watch an average of
twenty-one hours of television a week. By contrast,
they spend only 35 minutes per week talking with
The gift of time to your children is beyond
measure. And while it's essential to spend some
time in self-care for your own mental health, there
are few fathers who couldn't afford to give up at
least one thing each week for their family.
How about you? A round of golf, a TV show, a
night of cards with the boys?
Fathers will do well to remember the words of so
many other parents who talk about how fast the time
goes with their kids.
You'll have plenty of opportunities to play
cards when your kids are gone.
© 2008 Mark
Other Father Issues,
* * *
To this day I can remember my father's
voice, singing over me in the stillness of the
night. - Carl G. Jung
a Masters degree in counseling psychology and has
been a counselor, business consultant, sports
counselor, and a certified life and business coach.
He has worked with individuals, teams, and
businesses to improve their performance for over 20
years. Prior to life and business coaching Mark was
a world-ranked professional tennis player and has
coached other world-ranked athletes. He has helped
hundreds of individuals to implement his coaching
techniques. Mark specializes in coaching men to
balance their lives and to improve the important
relationships in their lives. He is the author of
the popular e-books, 25
Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent
Your Wife in 30 Days or Less (And Improve Yourself
at the Same Time
Mark is also the publisher of the Dads
Dont Fix your Kids ezine for fathers.
To sign up, go to www.markbrandenburg.com
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