One of the biggest things that kids struggle with is finding their place in the world, or whatever their rendition of that “special place in the universe” is. Truth is, we still feel like that at certain intervals well into adulthood, but children, from the minute they can form a complete thought, and well on through their teenage years, are self-conscious, angsty, and nervous on a constant basis, even when they don’t show it. You have to encourage their confidence; it’s the building block of success.
Support Them No Matter What
When you support your kids in anything they do, they know one certainty in life: Dad’s got my back, and that’s enough. Don’t expect it to be a complete shield for them against the world, but when the day comes to a close and the dust settles, they know that someone believes in them, and that’s a confidence boost. Even if their interests aren’t your cup of tea, invest your time in them so that they can see how much you support them.
Don’t Embarrass Them
As parents, it’s heartbreaking to hear, “Dad, you don’t have to walk me to the door anymore,” from our kids. However, we’re not raising kids—we’re raising the next generation’s adults. You have to remember that your child, whether you like it or not, will take small baby steps towards independence, and this is one of them. It’s something you’ve been teaching them, and it’s paying off, but it’s always bittersweet. Embarrassment is hard to get over. Don’t be stubborn and insist on keeping to things that they find embarrassing now (within reason, of course). You have to give and take, pick and choose your battles with this one.
Show Them That They Don’t Have to Stand For Everything
It’s a tricky, slippery slope here because, on one hand, you want them to respect the authority in your home. That’s not unreasonable. On another hand, you also want to raise someone who’s going to stand up for themselves (and others, should they need it) along the way. Show your children when to speak up, when to stay a gentleman/lady, and what shouldn’t be tolerated as normal human behavior. None of us would go back to being children—remember that, and teach them right from wrong to better distinguish when they should stand, and when they should open the door.
Being a dad isn’t easy. It’s a whole new level of difficulty, especially as you’re watching your oldest start growing up and taking shape as a full-fledged, independent man-in-the-making or woman-in-the-making. Foster their confidence, and you’ll be raising tomorrow’s adults that go boldly where their peers do not, who stand against the wind instead of going with the current.
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