I hate to admit this, but I’m not always the most vocal about my support of my children. I think as parents, as husbands, as friends, we get complacent with how we think other people view our support. We feel our support is “implied.” However, that can’t be further from reality. Our kids will never know our true level support if we are not in a state of active support. Active support is where we are engaged in our children’s lives on a deeper level. It’s where you are not an observer of them, but an active participant in their lives.
According to a survey released by a research group led by NISHIMURA Kazuo (Project Professor at the Kobe University Center for Social Systems Innovation) and YAGI Tadashi (Professor at the Doshisha University Faculty of Economics) people who had experienced “supportive” child-rearing, where parents paid them a lot of positive attention reported high salaries, academic success, and high levels of happiness.
Being supportive of our children turns them into happier, healthier, and wealthier adults. Now I want to give you three ways to be a supportive parent. These are tips I have used in my parenting life that have helped me overcome the “my support is implied” attitude.
Often our children just want to feel our presence and know that we are there with them. Early on as a parent, I was completely occupied by the thought of providing a living for my children. I thought by working a job and putting food on the table that I was the dad of the year – Wrong. While I was making a healthy living and providing them with things they needed, I neglected that their hearts needed more of me, not just my ability to provide. My kids needed me to be involved.
I missed a lot of events when my kids were younger because I made myself believe that I could not leave work to attend a Halloween party. The day I made a choice not to miss any more of these moments was one of the best days of my son’s life. He hugged me tightly and said, “Thank you, Daddy…for showing up”.
So, show up.
Have you ever met someone that people always say, “He’s such a great listener.”? Well, I used to think I was one of those guys. Somewhere along the line, someone told me I was a good listener, so I naively believed it. Listening is a skill, and it needs to be practiced daily. One night, I was sitting on my son’s bed, and I noticed something I had never noticed before. Every time he would begin to talk I would cut him off. I probably did this 4 or 5 times before I realized it. I began to wonder, “Have I always done this?” Then I realized, I have always done this. I wasn’t supportive of my son’s thoughts and his opinions. I wasn’t appreciative of the effort he put into his thoughts. I was merely cutting him off and saying what I thought was right. It crushed his confidence and made him not want to talk to me because he didn’t feel like I would listen.
I have worked on this for two years. It was something embedded deep inside me. And it’s a habit I’m determined to break. I’ve made great progress, but there’s a long way to go. So when you’re in the car or sitting at the foot of your child’s bed, remember to listen to their stories. Listen to their thoughts. If you listen well enough, you’ll hear all their hopes and dreams, and you can support them in the way they truly need.
Don’t let your fears and doubts become theirs
I’m terrified of heights. So when my son told me his dream was to parachute of an airplane, my initial thought was “Gulp.” What I quickly realized though is that if I want to support him in his dream – even if I find it terrifying – I have to leave my fears and doubts elsewhere. Fear and doubt can cripple adults, so we don’t want to pass that mentality to our children. If we want to support our children and raise them to be overcomers, then we can’t project our fears and doubts onto them. So, I’m terrified of heights. But my son wants to jump out of a plane. And he said, “Daddy, I want to jump out of the plane with you.” The fear in me said ‘you can’t do this.’ But my fears don’t have to become his.
So, it looks like I’m jumping out of a plane too. Maybe next time I’ll be more careful when I ask them about their dreams.
Well, maybe not.