You Must Love the Kid You Have

Maybe you’re an introvert and your daughter turned out to be an extrovert. Maybe you always hoped for a daughter and ended up with three sons. Maybe you wanted an athlete. Or you wanted someone to hand over the family business to. Maybe, sometimes in secret, you wish you had a kid who was easier. Who didn’t struggle as yours does. Who was closer—in this way or that way—to some image you always had in your mind. 

Well, guess what? That’s a YOU problem. It’s certainly not their problem. So you have to get your shit together. You have to figure out how to get over this, because it’s not fair and it’s not right. 

“I talk to hundreds of thousands of kids about the things they want their parents to hear,” the bestselling author Jessica Lahey recently told us, “and this is, by far, the number one comment I get. ‘I am not my brother,’ ‘I am not my sister,’ ‘I am not my parents when they were my age,’ ‘I don’t know who my parents think they are raising but it’s not me,’ ‘My parents think they know who I am but it’s all their expectations of me and they have no idea who I actually am.’” 

Isn’t that heartbreaking? We’ve talked before about things you never want your kids to think or feel. Those responses—which Jessica says gets emailed to her almost every day—are right at the top of the list. No kid should feel like their dad wants them to be different. No kid should feel that they are in some way a disappointment. They should, as Mr. Rogers famously said, know that they are special for who they are, that they make the world—and your life—better just by being in it. 

Your kids need to be seen. They need to be heard. They need to be loved. They need to be known. For who THEY are. Not who you want them to be. Not what you wished they would be. But what they are and will be. What they choose. 

That’s what they want from us. And that’s what they deserve. So you better give it to them. Starting today and for the rest of their lives.

P.S. This was originally sent on September 17, 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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