Dads (and Mums as well) believe it is their responsibility to keep their children safe. However, avoiding anything potentially dangerous is not the best way to equip our children to navigate dangers in the future. In our desire to keep our children safe, we may end up teaching them to be afraid of things like strangers, animals, insects, dirt, the dark, and so on.
Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self.” If our kids are going to successfully navigate a risky world and live an adventurous life, there is one thing they must consistently hear from us: “Do not be afraid.” And there are three simple ways dads can do that.
First, teach them they are loved. It’s remarkable how much courage comes from knowing you are deeply loved. Frequently communicate love to your child in ways he or she understands. Use words and gestures at the same time.
Second, model an exciting, purposeful life for your kids. Take up a new hobby. Explore new locations and try regional cuisine. Or embark on an adventure with your child, like what Andrew McCarthy did. He trekked 500 miles across Spain’s Camino de Santiago with his 19-year old son. This adventure helped cement their relationship with one another. If you don’t think you can walk 500 miles, you could consider climbing a mountain, or trekking through a forest. Just you and your child.
Finally, support failure. Too often, whether consciously or unconsciously, we teach our children that failure is the worst thing that could happen. That is not the case. Wisdom emerges when we try something, fail, and then learn from that failure. Instead of rushing in to save your children, allow them to take on difficult tasks. If they struggle or fail, send them out to try again to help them learn important lessons, such as the fact that failure is not fatal.
By Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering. To reach Parcsen, please make an appointment at: calendly.com/iamparcsen.
Chat With Your Kids: When was the last time you had an adventure? What did you learn from it?