When Brenda, my wife and I were engaged. She had several girlfriends, who were married with babies. Brenda loved visiting these wives with babies. During our visit, these babies always seemed to need their diapers changed. Brenda would volunteer. Then, she’d ask me if I wanted to help. My answer was always, “No.”
After our twin girls were born, the Daddy gene must have kicked in because I had no problem changing my own babies’ diapers, even though it was not my idea of having fun. Brenda was relieved. Her underlying concern was wanting me to connect with our babies.
How do you connect with your kids?
How you love the mother of your children is the foundation for all you do with your children. How you communicate with your wife will impact your family either positively or negatively for the next three to four generations. Treating our wives well gives our children security. Treating them badly creates insecurity.
If you are not married to your children’s mother. Treat her with respect whether you think she’s deserving it or not. Never speak negatively about your children’s mom in front of them. When you do, you force them to choose between her and you. That’s not fair to them. Know that your children see which parent is doing what without needing input.
I knew nothing about kids before marriage. My father died before I got married, so I asked my mentors what should I do. One said, “Invest in your children while they are small and it will pay dividends later.” He was right! My girls are now in their thirties, but they still love spending time with dad.
When I was the pastor of a church, I realized Brenda needed help getting the girls ready for church. She taught me how to braid their hair. It was a way of bonding with them.
Before they were three years old, I spent a lot of time with my girls teaching them how to shoot a basketball. One mentor told me he even though he traveled a lot, that he never missed his children’s events. That registered with me and I worked hard to do that.
Wives and children spell love T-I-M-E! Quality time comes out of quantity time! Don’t ever forget that. This is critical when your children are teenagers! During these quantity times with your kids, see it as an opportunity to get to know them better. Ask questions, but not “yes-no” questions. Don’t be afraid of silence.
Hug your children often! Your touch is as powerful and needed as their mom’s. Children get their sexual identity from their dad, not from their mom. When a dad is absent or passive and doesn’t touch his children, they usually become confused regarding their gender identity.
Become interested in their hobbies and interests.
Praise them when you see them doing good. When you need to criticize them, tell them three things they are doing well before criticizing them.
If your children are Christians, pray short prayers with them and have them pray. Children often pray about what is most important to them. Their prayers tell us how to parent them.
If your children are not Christ-followers, still make sure to talk with them and listen to them.
Create a safe place for your children to be able to talk with you about anything because if they don’t feel safe with you, they’ll get advice from their peers. In some cases, it needs to be okay for them to disagree with you.
The best way to create a safe place for them is by apologizing to them when you are wrong. Our apologies make us human, transparent, authentic, and approachable.
Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages of Children and The Five Love Languages of Teenagers are tremendous resources. Love your kids in their love language.
Dr. Jeff Shears and I co-authored What All Dads Should Know. It addresses blended families and how the biological parent and the married parents should raise the child.