By MH Staff - Posted on 23rd January 2014
Want to raise emotionally balanced children? Then don’t be afraid to show your vulnerable side.
Here’s the paradox of modern fatherhood: men want to be emotionally close to their kids, but they’re shackled by the norms of masculinity. Expressing emotion to a child is often viewed as overly sentimental, says Dr Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead (R293, Kalahari). But your emotions can help you form solid bonds with your children. Vulnerability is the birthplace of trust and empathy, says Brown. So the trick to being a great father – and husband, for that matter – is to make a conscious decision to show your sensitive side, no matter what. – Jim Higley
Tell your child stories about when you struggled at his or her age. Think of your fears and embarrassments. “Your child will learn that Pa is not perfect and that she doesn’t have to be flawless to be accepted by you,” says John Duffy, author of The Available Parent (R162, Kalahari).
Don’t put on a show with fake tears, but if you’re a crier, there’s no harm in shedding tears during a sad movie, poignant story, or, hell, when your team makes the final, says Duffy. And when your kids see you laughing later, they’ll learn that tears pass.
Tell them about your own blunders. “If you spend any time at all in the stadium,” Brown says, “you’ll get your ass kicked sometimes.” Then counter those tales with ones where your determination paid off. They’ll learn resilience and have greater confidence the next time they step up to play.
Try something new with your kids. Sure, you’ll suck at it, but you’ll laugh too, says Duffy. Your kids will learn that they’re still safe when they’re out of their comfort zone. And a willingness to operate outside of that comfort zone is a path to success later in life.
Ask for your kid’s opinion, and take it seriously. Does he or she think Howl’s Moving Castle is better than Toy Story 3? Well, maybe the kid knows something you don’t. Children need permission to be themselves, says Brown. Let them see your flexibility; they’ll learn to be flexible too.
Stop and help a stranger change a tyre. Then extend that compassion to your child. Acknowledge his or her feelings, and show you care without trying to solve things, says Duffy. Being a kid is hard. Try to remember that.