By Ilze Alberts, the founder of Bella Vida Family Wellness Centre in Bryanston, a Senior Certified Demartini Method® Facilitator, Life Strategist, Psychologist, International Speaker and Author. www.bellavidacentre.co.za and www.ilzealberts.com
With another Father’s Day around the corner, I reflected on what are the most important actions kids need from their dads. The following are key actions kids are looking for in a great dad:
Action 1: See his kids as his mirror
A great dad sees his children as mirrors of him and not as extensions of him. That means he does not expect his children to make up for his shortcomings or to live life the way he would like to live it. Often, the very aspects of a child dads want to change, is the very aspect about him he would like to change in himself. Kids want to be loved for who they are and want to know they are accepted as they are, even if it is very different to dad’s expectations. Dad may be a lover of golf, but his kids think it’s boring. A great dad will accept that his kids are different to him.
Action 2: Good listener
Good communication is crucial to a good relationship and good communication is more about listening than talking. A great dad wants to know what is important and of priority to his kids and therefore he attempts to be a great listener and a good communicator. He “listens” to his kids words and especially their actions. Children say a lot through their actions and interests and it does not take a rocket scientist to know what kids consider as important and of high priority. Golf-loving dad takes his kids with him to the driving range, but “listens” if the kids do not show any enthutiasm in joining him hitting balls but rather want to play catchers with each other.
Action 3: Realistic expectations
A great dad tries his best to remember to have realistic expectations of his children. If he dislikes playing Playstation and his son absolutely loves playing it, he tries his best to remember that they are two individual people and he sometimes plays some games with his son on the Playstation. He therefore meets his son in his son’s world and his son feels accepted and special. Children often have the opposite priorities to their parents and a great dad accepts this.
Action 4: Exemplified role model
Children learn from parent’s role modelling and not so much by what they are saying. They watch more than what they hear and therefore I believe a good dad learns great life skills and emotional savviness to enable him to role model great life skills and emotional intelligence to his kids. My 27 year-old daughter told her 25 year-old brother earlier this week that her dad’s example and teachings about the importance of saving money (therefore to pay yourself first by saving) has made her financially astute and free of money worries. She said to her brother that he inspired her by his example.
Action 5: Time, time, time
A great dad spends time with his kids, individually and with the kids together. One of the fondest memories I have of my dad, who passed away two years ago, is the following: When I turned 13 years he asked my mom to get me my first high heels (it was a big thing for me) and he took me out for my first formal dinner at a fancy restaurant. In my perception, I was treated like a lady and I felt very grown-up and special.