Feelings Are Not Indictments

One of the things you have trouble adjusting to when you first have kids is the crying. Not just because it’s loud, but because it feels like you’re being stabbed in the heart. We are not meant, evolutionarily, to be good at ignoring crying babies—especially ones we are related to. It provokes us in a very deep place, and that’s a good thing. 

But, as they get older, you’ll have to learn how to manage this. Because it’s inevitable that your children will be upset, even cry, throughout their lives. You son will fall and hurt himself. Your daughter will be angry that her toy broke. They’ll be sad. They’ll get dumped. They’ll be heartbroken. They’ll get fired and they will fail.

As a father, you have to understand this critical lesson: Tears are not indictments. They are facts. They are not problems for you to solve, or charges for you to defend yourself against. They are pronouncements. What your kids need is for you to listen to them. To hear what they are saying. No more. No less. 

They don’t need a lecture. They don’t need you to tell them how they can avoid this next time. They definitely don’t need to be told how this is not a big deal…or conversely, how this is a huge deal and totally their fault. They just need you. They need dad. They need dad to understand. 

Got it? By the way…this advice should apply to your marriage or relationships too.

P.S. This was originally sent on January 3, 2020. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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