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Fixing Dads and Self-Esteem

by Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC

Fixing Dads and Self-Esteem

Fathers are notorious for being "fixers." When something goes wrong or isn't working well, fathers want to jump in and fix it. This works very well for sinks, but not so well for sons and daughters. Kids who feel as though they're being fixed a lot tend to suffer from low self-esteem.

To be an effective father, it helps to see the good in your kids and to keep your focus there, not on their faults. If you think about your child's faults and try to fix them, you'll end up seeing more and more faults.

You'll also end up further from your child.

Yet millions of fathers across this country are trapped in the "fixing box" with their children. They pay no heed to the parenting law of the universe, which states, "what you think about expands." The more energy they produce in thinking about their kids "problems," the more problems their kids produce.

This vicious cycle is not only frustrating and damaging; it eliminates the possibility that fathers can deliver to their kids what's most important.

And what's most important is that fathers accept their kids.

There are certainly many other important things that a father does for his kids, but none is more important than his acceptance. Nothing is more important than his ability to see past the "mistakes of childhood," to the vast potential that exists in his children.

One way to accomplish this is to commit to having more positive interactions with your child-hugs, winks, acknowledgements, etc. These kinds of things will then expand in your child. A ratio of five positive interactions to one negative interaction will help ensure that your child feels accepted and more closely connected to you.

Positive interactions might be things like hugs and encouraging words, while negative interactions would be criticism, a stern look, a "correction," or harsh words. Paying attention to this ratio will also have you paying attention to the type of energy that exists during your interactions. Does your gut tell you that this interaction was positive, or is there an uncomfortable feeling that tells you your ego was involved?

Here are some other ways to help fathers to be more accepting of their kids:

  1. Take a good look at yourself. What's all the criticism about and why is it so easy for you to fix your child? The chances are good that your own esteem issues are getting in the way. Figure out what these are-how do they show up and in what situations?
  2. Plan for success with your child. Keep him/her in situations where success is likely. Avoid putting your child on sports teams where they'll be the youngest. Create projects that rely on small steps that your child can accomplish.
  3. Practice the comments you'll use when your kids make mistakes, and pay close attention to how positively you react. "Hmm, what happened there?" or "That can be pretty hard to do, I'll help you clean it up" might be appropriate comments to your child after a mistake.
  4. Tell them about how you accept them. Some fathers take it for granted that their kids know they accept them; don't make this mistake! Tell them, "I feel really lucky to be your dad." Let them know specifically what you appreciate about them.

Your most important job as a father is to accept your kids. It's to be gentle with the inevitable "mistakes of childhood."

Is your ratio of positive to negative interactions close to five to one? Do you want your child to become a young adult who's secure, confident, and happy?

Much of it's in your hands.

About the Author:

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches men to be better fathers and husbands. He is the author of "25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers" http://www.markbrandenburg.com/father.htm For a FREE ecourse for fathers, articles, and FREE newsletter for Dads, go to http://www.markbrandenburg.com.
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