Bearing children is only the start of the responsibility of all parents. As your kids grow up, they need more than just physical attention. They need your help and guidance to develop mentally, emotionally, and morally. To achieve this, children need the love of their fathers. Not just verbal expression but they need to see you putting your words into action.
In other words, they need a good parental example and wholesome principles by which to live. Now, let me tell you about my experience.
On a Thursday sometime in July, a co-worker and I are conversing. He pulls his chair around, faces me, and we begin to talk. About the usual. What men love to talk about during work breaks: sports, the newest European Football club signings, etc.
Ten minutes into the conversation, and something unusual happens. Out of nowhere, this coworker of mine goes: “I don’t understand my kids.”
I raise my face to look at him, amused at his facial expression. Where did that come from? He smirks, then continues. “I feel like they don’t love me enough. Especially my daughter, Clara. The older of the two.
“She keeps her distance around me and it’s funny because I do everything to make sure she loves me. Man,” He pauses. “I pay for whatever she asks for—and on time. She doesn’t even need to ask sometimes. There are times when I hand her dollar bills for no reason at all. But she seems distant. I don’t get it.”
Whilst he is still talking, I zone out. My mind drifts to the past. A memory of some time in the past, when I was sixteen years old and still living under my parent’s roof with my older sister who was then just about to leave for college.
I remember that evening. Mom had just served dinner. After eating, we said thanks, my sister and me, and we’re well on our way to bed when mother called out. “I need to talk to you guys, George and Flora, for a minute. Can you wait?”
“Yes, Mom,” Flora said and we sat. Two minutes after, Mom joined us at the table.
“What is it, Mom?”
“It is your dad.” She smiled. “He has asked me to ask you guys why you hate him.”
With widened eyes, Flora and I turn to look at each other before echoing in unison, “We don’t hate Dad.”
“You don’t? Then what, darlings? Why aren’t you both close to him? Why don’t you have a relationship with him?”
There was a pause, an awkward silence that mom broke with another question. “Does he not give you enough money?”
I remember Flora giggling. “Dad thinks this is about money?”
This is the very question that escapes my lips when my coworker is done talking.
“C’mon, mate. You really think being a father is all about giving your kids money and providing for them financially?”
“It isn’t?” He raises his brows. “Really?”
He’s fallen for it, obviously. Fallen for that scam. Fallen for that belief that fathers should only be ‘macho men’ who are as hard as steel, as firm as glue. That belief that dads exist only to reply to the good mornings their kids throw at them, ask how you are, and then be on their way to work. Returning home hours after with some money to meet needs.
“Of course, it isn’t, mate. What are you thinking?”
There is silence for a moment, and when we both look up, we see that another coworker has joined in on the conversation. This one’s standing over there, a flat file in his hand.
“If it’s not. Then tell us, what do kids need from their dads?”
The conversation continues.
So. What do children need from their fathers?
5 important things children need from their dads
1. The feeling of safety
Children want to feel safe around their parents. They want to feel loved and appreciated. They want to be able to run to their fathers when confronted by issues bigger than they can readily handle on their own. Do not raise your child to be scared of you.
You indirectly or maybe even directly do this when you are in a habit of scolding your child for the littlest errors and thus making them doubt themselves. This is going to make them withdraw from you.
Because they know that if they talk to you about some trouble they got into, maybe at school, you’d make a fuss about it, they’d not talk to you at all. When they get into trouble, they’d keep it to themselves. You don’t want this.
Children, no matter their age, need their fathers’ attention. Attention makes children feel valued and loved. And it is only when children feel valued that they really open up.
If you want a better relationship with your kids, don’t be that dad who is always busy. Create some time for them. Be there with them at moments that matter a lot to them. For example, let’s say your child is about to play his first game for his school’s sports team. You should know that he or she needs you, and you should not miss the game. Be there to cheer.
Create time to have heart-to-heart and genuine conversations with your kids too. They need that from you as their father. It’d teach them to value your presence.
3. Emotional connection
This is often where a lot of fathers are left out. We like to think it’s the mother’s duty to emotionally connect with the child. I used to think that too when my daughter was still in her pre-teens. I would watch the then-girl wrap her mother and they’d be a spark. But with me, it was bare. Hugs barely came, and when they did, they seemed too normal to be hugged. Seemed like hugging me felt weird to her.
Guess why? A deep emotional connection was absent.
Emotional connections don’t form out of the blue. They are cultivated. By constant communication. Communicate with your kids, fathers. Listen to how their day at school went. Talk to them about work, about your lunch breaks. It’s in those moments of silence and laughter that bonds are formed.
For example, when your child learns to read, encourage him to read the book to you and himself. The more he reads it, the more he will understand everything written on it. But if you intend to strengthen the affectional bond and respect between you and your child, by all means, read the book together, and it will be best to do it regularly and not just as a one-time thing. (1)
In summary, love your children. It’s one thing to love a person, and it’s another for that person to feel loved. It’s your duty to make your children feel loved. Create an environment that encourages this feeling. Love their mother. Show it. Love is the number one thing kids need from their fathers.
As children grow older, they can benefit greatly by spending time with you. So, be an effective role model. Parents are the most important role models for their children. When you teach your children to cherish and respect you, they will want to grow up to be like you.
Being a father isn’t necessarily about giving your children money. It’s more than that, a lot more. Children need much more than money from their fathers. They want to feel safe, loved, and valued. It’s your duty as a father to make certain that they feel these.