I was watching a video of one of my favorite motivational speakers, Eric Thomas, a.k.a ET the Hip Hop Preacher and something he was talking about stayed with me. He mentioned that he had just dropped his daughter off at her ACT exam after he had been up late the night before.
He was talking about the fact that being present in his children’s lives is something he must do and something we all should do. It started me to thinking about what being present looks like and how we could change the narrative in our community about how fathers are influencing the lives of their children.
The needs of the child always come first
Many of us do not have the ideal situation with our families. Whether it is an ex-wife or child’s mother who we do not have a good relationship with, we have to look long term at our actions.
Related: Without saying a word, my children will learn these 5 lessons simply from watching my marriage.
I heard one person say that his daughters “will adjust” to a divorce in their family. That attitude is not good enough! While it’s true a child may adjust to live with family problems, they will not adjust to not having their father present in their lives.
Present means taking time to talk to them about what is going on in their lives, in school, at home, and whatever else they would like to talk about.
Children need their fathers.
Yes, they need their financial support, but far more importantly, they need their father’s influence, upbringing, guardianship and guidance. Every child has these needs, and as fathers we are obligated to provide these things for our children, regardless of any surrounding circumstances.
The minimum is not acceptable
Minimum effort will always accomplish minimum results. Children need us to go the extra mile for them. For example, if your child is struggling in school, work with the school to find out if there are other solutions to help the child or if another school might be in the best interest of your child.
Talk to your children about social interactions with peers. The world is always changing and children today deal with different experiences than you may have when you were in school. Ask them what is going on in their lives and listen to their responses. Help them through their challenges as they grow.
I have heard of men who pay their child support, but they choose not to spend any more money on their children, saying they should have what they need through the support. This is minimum effort.
Again, whatever challenges you may have from a relationship with their mom are separate challenges, but if your child needs something and mom can’t provide, child support or not, it’s your responsibility to make it happen.
Your child won’t know about any issue you had with mom; all they will remember is they couldn’t go on a field trip or get the prom dress they wanted and Dad didn’t provide for them.
Teach your children values
Being present is the only way you can teach your children your value system. If you have a standard for how you dress, walk, talk and act in a social setting and you want to pass that along to your children, you have to teach them these things as they grow.
If you want your children to be givers, have them around to see you give to others.
If you expect your children not to succumb to peer pressure, talk about what is and what is not acceptable when they are with others.
You can’t be around all of the time to protect them, but if you are present, you can share what they need to know during those times so they can take this valuable knowledge with them for the rest of their lives. You set the standard for how a young lady sees a man in her life. Be present. Require respect, show her respect, give her love and affection and help her set the standards for her life.
As fathers, we can say we care for our children, but the best way to show our children we care is to be present in their lives. Children like toys and things, but what they care the most about and treasure is the relationship with their father.
BMWK, How do you show yourself present in the lives of your children?