To My Fellow Dads…
I hope this finds you all healthy and humbled this year. It’s another edition of that amazing holiday that gives thanks for all we do as strong and dedicated dads. Yes, it’s Father’s Day.
Last year at this time, you might remember that I wrote to you all about the importance of quality time with your children as a gift to you and them for Father’s Day.
I proposed at the time that we all honor ourselves by “pausing, prioritizing, and purposefully managing” our day. Did you set out and accomplish this goal?
If so, awesome job. You took value in responding with intention to our challenge set for you.
However, if you weren’t as successful as you intended, it might have been for the at-times elusive fourth “p-word,” the formidable … patience.
I don’t know about you, but for me, this can be the arch nemesis when I’m working hard to be a present and mindful dad.
In definition, patience is our way of staving off uncomfortable and unsettling experiences in the face of challenging stimuli, i.e. our children, and regulating our emotions to respond without reacting in ways we would later not appreciate.
By design, as dads, we are genetically pre-wired to lead with a mindset of fixing a problem when we experience it. With children, the ‘fixit hat’ is not likely going to be the resolver of all things “Dad, I want this”; “Dad no, I’ll do it myself”; “Dad, I don’t have to listen to you”; “Dad, you’re bossing me around,” and on and on.
What I have learned in the past 3½ years raising my 3-year-old son and my 1½-year-old daughter is that when frustration is at its peak, the greater resolver of our children’s needs, as well as our own, is not always taking care of something for them, but simply allowing for compassion, empathy, and appreciation for them and the lessons they are teaching us at the moment.
Patience is a skill that is honed over time, with repetition and contrast. Apply this practice across all areas of your life, and the difference in your stress, anxiety and need for control will quickly be replaced by calm and collectedness.
On this Father’s Day, I propose to you, not a challenge, but simply a pause of reflection in your day on the forces that are shaping who you are as a father, as well as how you guide through modeling and mentoring.
To help you along your way toward intentionally responding to your children’s needs, try these 5 steps following a moment of broken patience this Father’s Day:
1. Pause and reflect on your responses to your children
2. Acknowledge your role in the interaction
3. Appreciate the need of your children, as well as your own
4. Lead with compassion and empathy for the challenges to be
5. Re-engage yourself with your children with an act of love and gratitude