As I said in my last post, we would talk about being present to our kids. As a dad you are so important to them that words cannot express the depth of the connection. So the attention you pay to your kids sends them a powerful message and that is: they are important to you. And if they are important to you, their dad, then they have the foundation of self-esteem.
Being there for your kids is really pretty easy. It takes some self-discipline but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy and becomes a habit. For example you are in the car with your kids and your mind is a thousand miles away thinking about something at work or whatever. Take yourself away from those thoughts and give your kid some attention. If they are little sing a song with them. (You don’t have to be able to sing they won’t care.) If they’re a little bigger, remind them of a bedtime story and make up other endings. Even older as a teen ask them to explain something from “their” generation you don’t get.
Now you may think this is a waste of time. Put that out of your head. What you are doing is letting your child know that you enjoy their company. You are showing you care about them.
When my kids were of cartoon viewing age, Saturday was always the day their mother could sleep-in. I would get up with them about 6:30. The two of them sat in the family room which was next to the kitchen. I would fix a pot of coffee and sit at the kitchen table and read the paper.
I always kept one eye on the TV and listened to what was going on and my kid’s reactions to it. From time to time I would say something like, “Oh wow look out for the cat!” and the kids would tell me what was going to happen to the cat because they had seen this one lots of times. The point is I paid attention to my kids, what they were interested in and their reactions. This seemed to mean a lot to them.
Years later my kids reminded me of how I always watched cartoons with them. They remember me right there in the room with them. They don’t recall I was usually at the kitchen table reading the paper and having my coffee. They know I was present to them. I feel good about that.