I have been amazed at the number of hits “Who Loves You Baby” has received in the past few weeks. It’s such a simple thought but as many of you have written to me, it’s an important one. On those crazy days when the world is spinning and the kids are getting into everything other than what they should be, it’s easy to get lost in comments like, “what were you thinking?” “you’re not wearing that to school,” “NO,” “how many times have I said to stop doing that?” and the list goes on. To a kid, those comments add up to “I’m stupid,” “I’m ugly,” “I’m worthless,” “I’m an idiot,” “I’m in the way” and “I’m an annoyance.”
I’ve seen Jerry Seinfeld perform multiple times and during one of his routines, he spoke about the fact that when he got married, he learned that apparently he has a “tone.” According to his wife, this “tone,” which he was unaware he even had, was not allowed in their house. Our words and the way we express them can have such a huge impact on our kids. I’ve been a dad now for ten years. And I’m continually having to catch myself and the way I approach my kids. I think the statement that hit home the most was when someone shared with me that when their father reprimanded them by yelling it was so condescending it cut them to the core. Sometimes it wasn’t what they said but how they said it. A dad’s tone, like it or not, can be incredibly harsh even when we don’t intend it to be.
In the back of their minds, kids are already wondering if the divorce is in some way their fault. “Was I not good enough?” “Did mom and dad get tired of being with me all the time?” As a single parent so much is suddenly thrust upon you that some days it’s all you can do to survive. And yes, the kids get the blunt of our frustrations. All the more reason to stop yourself and give them little reminders of how amazing they are and how much you love them.
I’m told by women especially, that a father can be incredibly important in the establishment of their senses of self worth. A little girl’s perception of how their father views them can have a lasting impression. And typically
men tend to be somewhat “sharp” in their approach. I’ve said before that it dawned on me one day that I should treat my daughters the way I want their partners to treat them years from now. I have an opportunity to establish early on how they should expect to be treated and talked to and they deserve to be treated with respect, admiration and love no matter what the conversation is about. That’s not to say little boys don’t need to hear it as well. But I’ve been taken aback by the number of women who have expressed to me the affect their father’s approach and “tone” had on them later in life.
It’s so important that we counter all of those negatives and corrections with comments that remind our kids how much we absolutely adore them. Here are some easy ones for you to keep in your back pocket: “You’re beautiful.” “You’re so smart.” “Good thinking!” “You’re awesome!” “Great job!” “I’m so lucky to be your dad!” “I
love that outfit.” “You look fantastic!” “I am so happy you’re here.” “You’re so much fun to be with.”