Today is a guest post from my Dad! With many years of experience helping people become better husbands, fathers and men, Paul Eden is going to share with us what kids really need from their dads. This post is an excerpt from Paul’s booklet for parents: Unwrapping the Living Gift. Perfect for Christmas don’t you think!
So many books! So many ideas! So hard to put into practice….being a good Mum or Dad. Unwrapping your living gift of a child– is it possible to be at peace with your role as a parent, and unwrap your gift in a way that doesn’t damage it?
I know for me, peace in this task was a hard thing to grasp! I had it early on as a father, then I lost it somewhere along the way, only to discover it again when I had processed through my feelings of inadequacy and guilt — when my daughters had reached adulthood!
Reflecting on the years, I believe I could have been much kinder on myself and experienced much more peace as a parent.
What is it that your child needs to grow up healthy, and end up thanking you?
A man, who I was helping with some personal repair work, shared with me some powerful words from the book Wild at Heart by John Eldridge.
The primary question that a girl has for her father is…”Am I lovely?” If not answered, she asks this every day as she looks in the mirror trying to get her make-up right, or seeks the answer from other men, even if it means sacrificing her sexual integrity.
The primary question that a boy has for his father is…”Have I got what it takes?” If not answered, he asks this every time he tests his strength against another boy, or tests himself with a speeding car, alcohol or drugs.”
Mums and Dads can love their babies enormously… they would “jump over tall buildings, catch bullets in their teeth, and stop trains with their bare hands for them, even die for them”…but the baby doesn’t always know that. The baby might be experiencing something else such as….love, acceptance and belonging…ONLY if they behave in acceptable ways.
So how can we have peace about parenting? How can we unwrap this living gift in a way that doesn’t damage it?
It’s really simple!
We just need to get our head around two words…
Nurture and Value.
As fathers our primary role as parents is to provide the second one. Value.
Were you valued as a child? That is, were you appreciated, understood, listened to, given time, encouraged in your strengths, helped to discover who you are?
When a child is valued that means they know their parents are pleased that they were born, that they are important enough for their parents to be around, spend time with them, that they are appreciated and valued as a member of the family.
Your child needs you to be the main source of Value– that’s your job– it’s that simple!
But, just as I’m sure your parents weren’t perfect, you won’t be a perfect parent either! If you were you’d be the only one! But having a strong desire to parent well is a good start. Parenting can seem very complicated and when things are complicated we can feel powerless and confused. But it can actually be very simple to give your kids what they need from you!
How can it possibly be simple?
- Lie on the floor for ten minutes each day, letting the kids crawl all over you and pull your face into strange shapes.
- Hug your child once a day.
- Once a day look into your child’s eyes and say “I really love you.”
- Twice a year say “I am very pleased we had you!”
Too simple? Of course, you may want to do more than that, but the hundreds of adults my wife and I have worked with, seeking healing from emotional trauma, would say that if they had received that from their parents, it would have been heaven!
The Five Emotional Needs of Children
There are five key emotional needs that children have. These are sub-categories of the two main needs — nurture and value.
- Unconditional love— there is nothing you can do that will stop me loving you.
- Trustworthiness–I will not betray your trust or abuse you in any way.
- Security–Your world is safe, I’ll make sure it is so you can be free to grow.
- Acceptance–I think you’re great! I’m so pleased I’m your parent.
- Belonging–You’re an important part of our family.
The Simple Parenting Summary
- Lie on the floor with your child for ten minutes
- Let your little girl know that she is lovely
- Let your little boy know he has what it takes
Remember that word Value… and, as you discover this amazing gift of a child you have been given, you will feel at peace in your parenting.
Paul Eden spent many years as a mental health nurse and then minister, specialising in healing from past hurts, marriage and mental health. He has counselled many individuals and couples in his practice alongside his wife Jo.