When your kids mess up, what’s your reaction? Do you freak out? Or are you calm? Do you make the situation better…or worse? Can you actually listen? Or are you halfway through a solution before they’ve even gotten two words of explanation out of their mouths?
The answers to these questions matter if, like a good dad, you want to be the kind of father who your kids turn to when they have a problem. You want them to come to you with their fears, with their secrets, with their dilemmas, don’t you?
Well then you better make yourself the kind of parent that has earned that honor, that has earned that respect. Because it’s a privilege and not a right. Need proof? Think about your own parents and how many things you kept from them. Even more, why you kept it from them.
Sure, some things we hide because we know it’s stuff we’re not supposed to be doing. But a lot of it is stuff we could have used their advice on, that we ached to connect over—but we knew we couldn’t. Because they would rush to judgment. Because they wouldn’t let us explain. Because it would trigger their anxiety or their temper or their moralizing reminders.
You want them to come to you with problems? You want to help them? Then show them. Teach them that it’s worth doing. Teach them that they’ll get a fair hearing. Prove to them that you make things better and not worse.
Let them see how you love them more than you hate any mistake.