When you are in the house, what presence are you creating?
That is the question that I want us to ponder this week. I believe that one of the core elements of the Father role is to create a Secure Presence. A presence of safety. It is my goal that my children will grow up with a deep understanding – both a head knowledge and the gut feeling – that I am a source of safety for them. Sometimes this will look like a big bear hug. Other times it will mean listening to your daughter tell you about her day, in all of its detail. Sometimes you will just provide a shoulder to cry on. Other times your firm standards for your son’s behavior will reassure him that you care enough to set limits and hold him to them. Each of these little moments will add up to create an overall environment of security for your kids that will set them up for a lifetime of confidence and wholeness.
This is not always an easy task. If you are a nice, friendly, gentle man, then your job will be to work on confidence and assertiveness. Your children need to know that you will step to the plate and protect them when needed, both physically and emotionally. If you are a dominant, loud person, then your job is to practice calm restraint. Your children should never be frightened that you will hurt them. Now, they should have a healthy fear that you are going to lay some unpleasant/painful discipline on them when needed, but that is different from being afraid of you.
Purposefully creating a secure presence will mean that sometimes you have to act in ways that aren’t ‘natural’ for you. Here’s an example: I love cracking jokes, and one of my favorite parts about being a dad of little kids is making them laugh. But then one day I remembered that often a girl will marry a man who is much like her dad. And I thought, “Do I want my daughter to marry the class clown?” No. Absolutely not. I don’t want to create a Presence that is predominantly fun and goofy-ness, so I need to tone it down. What this means is that at times I need to sacrifice a few easy laughs for my daughter’s future. Of course, don’t take it too far the other direction…dads need to use humor as a tool to keep things light in the house and to connect with their daughters. The key (not surprisingly) is to be purposeful…not always silly, but not always serious. Keep your mind on the goal: creating a secure presence.
Dads – which end of the spectrum is most natural for you?
< – Distant Presence (Absent, Unreachable)——-Fun Presence——–Secure Presence——–Disapproving Presence ———– Intimidating Presence – >
As you identify where you tend to fall on the spectrum, that will help you know what kind of modifications you can make. Maybe you need to work harder at setting aside time to be there for them. Or maybe you need to practice a kinder, gentler approach. No matter what you have to do – it’s worth it!
This is really important! Like it or not, your wife and kids sense your presence and are affected by it. Make sure to be purposeful. Give your family the blessing of a secure presence.
What presence do you create? Is it the presence you want to create?