Emotional Support for Children

Happy Father's Day! What do you mean, it is not Father's Day? Of course it is. If you are a man and a parent, every day is Father's Day. By which I mean a daddy's work is never done, and you have to be a father every day.

Some of the work you do is what we call the fun work. Examples of the fun work are tossing a baseball around with your kids, teaching your child to read fairy tales, and acting the role of Darth Vader as your little Luke and Leia hammer on you with styrofoam swords they call "light savers".

Then there is what we refer to as the work work. The work work is seldom fun but is just as important. When your children paint their calico cat pink because it is prettier, and with real paint and a toothbrush, cleaning up the disaster is a great instance of work work. So is explaining why doing that was not a very good idea. Another work work situation was the solving of "The Mystery Of The Dying Houseplant". The only clue I needed was the guilty expression on my son's face when he hurriedly exited the room the plant was in. That and the strong smell of urine coming from the plant's potting soil.

Whether it is fun work or work work make no mistake, being a parent can be quite a job. That being said, it is a job I recommend highly.

As a dad a lot of the duties and responsibilities of that job is simple, just be there. That may sound over-simplified but a lot of kids can tell you that growing up without a dad (or a mom) can make things much, much harder on them. Sometimes it is not what you do or say that matters so much, simply that you are there to do it or say it. Often kids, just like people older than them, just want somebody to listen. Someone to hear what they have to say. When they take a tumble off their bike and run to you with a scraped knee it is your job to make things right. That knee needs to cleaned up. That scrape needs a band-aid. That kid needs a hug. As long as dad is there they feel like everything is going to be okay, and that is the way it should be.

Being there means a lot of things, obviously. It means you are there to love them, support them, protect them. All you have to do is think back and remember how you felt about your own parents, about how it felt to know you could always count on them. Or about how it made you feel if you knew you could not. Kids have a pretty tough job, too. They have to figure out how to live. If you think that sounds too basic, again think back to when you were young and going through it yourself. All the things you wondered about, everything that made sense to you (or did not), why things made you feel the way they did. You found yourself wondering about the future, and about how you were going to get there. When you remember these things you will find a lot of empathy for what is going through your children's minds all the time. Good dads never forget the little boy they used to be.

Never forget the little things, the simple things. What may not seem like a big deal to you can be very important to your kids. Treat every thing they give you like the priceless treasure it is. When they pick a flower and bring it to you do not just mumble "Thanks" and put it down somewhere. Marvel over how nice it is, about how pretty it would look in a container with some water. Pay attention to the smile they get on their little face just before they run off to find a jar or bottle to put the flower in. That grin says they did something for dad that made him happy, that they did something right. And they will remember it, believe me. Just as you can easily recall every kindness (or lack of it) you got from your own dad while you were growing up.

So I say again, Happy Father's Day. Another day with your kids, another chance to help them grow and learn and find out just how much they mean to you. Another day that they may look back on someday and remember with a smile. Because when a child knows how much they mean to you it helps them understand how much they can mean to everybody. Because you care, they know they matter. Because they matter, they will always care.