Dads need to be prepared to deal with all sorts of crisis in the lives of our kids. That does not mean that we can “fix” all of the crisis, and at times, nor should we. In this short series about “Being a Prepared Dad,” we will discuss many situations that our children will or may face. To make more sense of this series, please go back and read yesterday’s post at thedadmanual.com.
One of the best places we can start is helping your child to deal with or conquer fear. This is or can be an issue that they will turn to you for help or guidance as long as you are alive. As an empty nester, trust me when I say that your job is not done when they leave home. It is also not an issue that only your child may turn to you for an answer or comfort.
One particular year, I was driving a school on a morning that we were having some substantial rain. As we began to drive, one of the students got a message from her parent that a tornado was spotted in or near the town that we were traveling to. Most of the time, this can be an overreaction to a nervous Nelly mom that lives on the planet Paranoia…not on this day. As we approached the town, I knew that if things got worse, I did not want to have these kids on the road. I needed to pull over and find shelter.
As we got off the highway, the sky became green and the rain and wind started coming at us from our right side. I pulled the vehicle over next to a gas station along with other vehicles that were grasping the seriousness of the moment. With the vehicle parked, I was looking out the windshield as this storm surge began to rock the bus. All of a sudden I had a weird feeling. It was not the storm, but of something behind me. One of the kids, a usual cool cat was sitting right behind me…as close to me as possible. I know the moment was serious, but I laughed. How was “I” going to keep him safe from the storm? If the wind tosses the bus, will he be unharmed if he is next to me?
Not to leave a storm in mid-crisis…everyone was okay. What this situation drove home for me was that I was there. There was no evidence to support that I could fix anything about our situation. I was just there. As I look back on the lives of my own children, this was probably the most comforting thing that I ever did. I promised and proved to them that I would not leave them. I was prepared to endure with them the situations that I could not fix or should not fix. I will expand more on that concept in a moment.
This does not sound like great preparation for a crisis. It seems like you are doing nothing. I would strongly disagree. This is living in a commitment. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake (abandon or give up on) you.” I have never seen a more supportive statement than “I won’t leave you no matter what”. Did you notice that this does not promise to “fix” or make a problem “go away”?
Dad’s, your kids need to know one thing for sure. They need to know that their dad won’t leave. No matter what they are going through, having a dad that is always there is a top priority. You can’t take away all their fears and concerns. You don’t have all the power nor all the right answers. So how do you prepare to “be there” for them? First of all, you must be observant. Remember that things which are no big deal to you can be scary for a child, or a teenager, or a young adult with little experience in a given situation. Don’t belittle their fear. Don’t blow it off and tell them to grow up. Stop and listen.
If you refer to the word STOP in my last post, you will see Stop. Think. Observe. Plan. Part of the correct observation is to read the situation by looking and listening. Just because you are the adult, it does not mean that you understand everything that your child is feeling. Stop and be there. Please note that the phrase “be there” may mean literally or figuratively. Be prepared to do whatever you can to meet their need. Many times, however, the greatest thing you can do is to be there.
When my daughter was at my house, she knew that my arms were always there to hold her. As a married woman and living over a thousand miles away, she knows that I am there for her, anytime that she needs to talk with me or come see me. My boys know this too. They know that their dad doesn’t have all the answers. They do know that I will never walk away from them.
Lastly, there are times when you should knowing “not fix” a problem for a child, even if you can. Supporting them emotionally but letting them “deal with” a struggle helps them develop. These situations are like problems with friends, making the team, making the grade, getting a job, and other possible situations. This is being prepared to let them struggle. Notice however that you are still “there” loving them, supporting them, giving advice, or restraining yourself from it.
Stop and think about it. What do we want from those that we love? Want them to be there for us. We don’t need them to fix all their problems, nor can they. You also don’t have to be the fix for your child’s every concern and struggle. Be there. Be the best dad possible.