If you’re a parent, you have no doubt experienced a moment or two when you wonder if you’re doing the best job you possibly can. I actually believe that’s a good thing, because, the way I see it, if you’re actually concerned about the job you’re doing, that means you care. And if you care, that’s a great place to start.
I think the best parents are just like the best people in any other endeavor in life. Always searching for new and better ways to do things, reading up on tips, asking questions, setting goals. A serious and successful mom or dad is like a serious and successful student of life.
If you fall into that category…congratulations! You’re on your way to amazing places as a parent.
Tonight I thought I’d share a little something with you that I picked up as a dad, which made a real significant difference in the relationship I have with my kids. And I’m hoping it might be something that will help you as well.
It all started for me when I was wondering if I was really connecting with my kids and if I was being an effective parent. Mind you, they were like 3 and 1 at the time…but hey, I put a lot of pressure on myself early in the game! So, it got me to thinking about how I could become a more engaged and dynamic dad.
Here’s what I learned and it’s a tip I want to pass along because it made all the difference in the world for me.
When your child wants to talk to you about something…listen. And don’t just listen, but make eye contact. And don’t just make eye contact, bend down or get on one knee and get face to face with them. Really and truly look them in the eye. And pay attention.
Nothing makes a child feel as safe and secure or loved and cared for as a parent who takes the time to listen. Who is concerned with whatever it is that is most relevant to them at the time.
“Just a minute” or “what do you want?”, “I’m busy right now” or “Yeah, yeah, sure” are some old standby responses that may pass for parent/child conversation for some, but really those are just lame responses from adults who don’t know the value of getting to know their own kids. Or maybe grown ups who don’t fully realized the blessing it is to build a meaningful relationship with their child.
Kids are pure, man. I mean they are the real deal. They have no real concept of time or boundaries, their imaginations run wild, they are naturally happy and curious, and they will ask anything. They ask because they want the answers. And the first place they look is the ultimate storehouse of knowledge…mom or dad.
Imagine that you are a super hero. Because, if you have children, you are. To those kids you are the bravest, strongest, smartest, and most influential person n the planet. As far as they are concerned, you know everything and you can do anything. And so, when they need an answer or a solution, some love, attention or just a person to share their feelings with…they come to you.
Imagine what a let down it would be if you had access to Superman, and when you asked him a question he replied, “Not now, I’m really busy”, and then he flew off to save someone else’s day.
Contrast that with how you would feel if the Man of Steel took time out of whatever he was in the middle of (even if it involved saving the planet from a dastardly villain), and leaned over to listen to your every care and concern. What if he looked you in the eye and talked to you for 30 minutes? What if he walked with you around the block or showed you how some of his super powers worked?
You’d be hooked for life. (And Superman would probably feel pretty damn good about himself, too).
That’s the same feeling your son or daughter gets when you stop whatever that serious adult thing it is that you’re doing, and you invest some time in their most important moment. Turn off the TV, walk away from the computer, put the spreadsheet on hold, hang up the phone, put the book down, look up from where you sit, and spend some of life’s most valuable and truly precious moments relating to your kids.
Hear their questions. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine things from their perspective and then thoughtfully answer them. Or better yet, show them what it is they want to know. Appreciate the wonder of being a kid. Lose yourself in their world for a little bit of time each day.
Just be present. Be real. Be a parent. Be a hero.
Your kids will grow up with confidence, they’ll be wise, and they’ll know what love is. That kind of belief in their self and that feeling of security will stay with them all the days of their life. And you’ll sleep better at night, knowing you’ve done your best.
It’s simple, but it will open up a whole new world for you and your children, and it will give you the best opportunity to influence those little people in the most meaningful and positive way. The culture you create by being a captivated resource for them will be most conducive to their ultimate development as successful people.
Believe me when I tell you, there’s no kryptonite for that kind of parenting.