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Men, I want to let you in on a secret about women: Father’s Day confounds us.
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I know that it shouldn’t, but it makes us sweat. What do we give you that you’ll actually want? We know that what many of you really want is to sneak off and play golf, go fishing with your buddies, or work on the yard, alone. We get it. You have precious little time at home and you need to relax, and it’s hard with kids riding piggyback as you push the mower across the lawn. But we can’t give you that because, well, Father’s Day is about us celebrating you, and how can we celebrate you if you aren’t home? So, I guess, we’re all confused about what to give you on Father’s Day.
I’ve learned a few things about you dads over the past few years, because I’ve gotten many amazing letters from you since my book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, came out. To honor you this entire month, I want to share some of what you said to me so that the women in your lives can help give you what you really need.
- You feel under attack almost every day.
No, your boss isn’t the biggest culprit, you say, but others in your life put you down. Movies make you look as though your 11-year-old is wiser than you, Hallmark tells you that you hog the channel changer, and—this hurts—many times we wives put you down in our own homes. We can be too controlling when it comes to the kids (in the name of being a good mom, of course), and this makes you feel as though you aren’t needed.
- You are nervous about whether or not you are good-enough dads.
The truth is, if you’re worried about it, you’re probably a very good dad. Remember, you just need to get the big stuff right when it comes to your kids. They tell me that they don’t care about your salary, the size of your home or how many of their athletic teams you coach. They just want to live life next to you. Because you are Dad, and no one has the power that you do.
- Once your kids hit the teen years, they don’t need you.
Don’t be so fooled. They need you during the teen years more than ever. Sure they snarl, so what? Love them anyway. That’s their new way of saying, “I think you’re great, Dad. I just don’t feel so good about myself.”
We mothers can do something special for you this year, and we need to ramp up. So mothers, let’s skip the mall and make a few commitments to the father of our children. Let’s really love them this year. For one month, let us commit to change the way we talk to our husbands (even if yours is an ex-husband), and let’s encourage our children to do the same.
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When we change the way we talk to our husbands, their lives change. Here’s how we can start.
- Refuse to say anything critical to him for one month. Speak kindly and respectfully, particularly in front of the kids.
- Tell him what he does well as a dad. Is he patient? Let him know. Is he a hard worker? Applaud him for it.
- Remind him how much your children need him. This doesn’t mean telling him that the kids need him to give them baths, take them to the store, or tell them to do their chores. Look him in the eye and tell him that they need him. No other man. They need his attention, character, admiration and all that he is. The truth is, as far as they are concerned, there is absolutely no replacement for him in their lives—whether they are five or 50.
Giving our men the gift of admiration and respect changes how they feel about us, themselves, the family and life. Good love is in short supply. So let’s make June a month of celebrating dads in a whole new way. And just wait until you see what July brings.
Pediatrician, wife, mother, and best-selling author of six books, Dr. Meg Meeker is one of the country’s leading experts on parenting, teens and children’s health.