Father’s Day is right around the corner, and today I’m shopping for gifts for the special dads in my life. And I’ll bet, Mama, that you are planning to take your kids out soon to do the same. I’m expecting a plethora of options—a whole aisle full of blue and brown cards, gag gifts, and every BBQ gewgaw ever created.
We equate our dads with the masculine—the providers, the protectors. Or the jokesters. And it’s fitting. The image of the strong man pervades our media and culture. It’s even an “ideal dad” vision we might carry within ourselves.
My dad is the quintessential man’s man. He worked 12 hours a day to provide for us. Since he was quiet and not emotionally expressive, I didn’t know my dad very well growing up. I just assumed he wasn’t interested in connecting with me.
Recently, a male colleague shared some insight that completely changed the way I think about men. He said, “Women are often the only attachment we have to any kind of shared emotional life. This means that men are deeply dependent on the approval and attention from women to reinforce their identity.”
Whoa. Perhaps my dad might have wanted emotional connection with me—that an emotional connection between us may have made my dad feel more like a man rather than less of a man. And perhaps as a woman, I had a big part in making it happen.
Emotional connection comes naturally to women. In one instant, we can experience and communicate emotion. It’s a gift, and it’s different than how God wired most men. But with that difference also comes a responsibility.
We are responsible to teach healthy emotional connection to others, especially to our children.
The relationship your children have with their father is so incredibly important. God designed dads to teach children special things, like how to take care of themselves and how to live according to sound principles. Within a family, dads are the “head” to balance out the “heart” of the mother.
And as the heart of your family, one of the best gifts you can give your children is a good relationship with their father.
So this Father’s Day, along with the fun cards and gifts, what about doing something to facilitate the emotional connection between your children and their dad? Here’s an idea: Send them on a picnic together. Prepare a basket full of goodies. Slip a question and answer game inside, and have them each take turns asking and answering questions like:
What do you most like about being a dad/a kid?
What do you love best about me?
What is your best memory of me?
What do you wish I knew about you?
What’s some advice you want to give me to be a better dad/kid?
It might be awkward at first. The more you can facilitate connection between your kids and their father, the easier it will become for them.
Connecting with dad is a great gift for your children. But, Mama, it’s also one of the greatest gifts you can give him too. It’s also a gift for you because as you see that relationship grow, it will absolutely fill your heart with joy.
Have a wonderful Father’s Day!