Embarrassing your kids is something they all worry about. I've been doing it for years! Even when my daughters and son and were in their twenties, I was sending words of advice to them. I'll give you a couple of bullets as examples.
- When you are worried about something, imagine yourself on the moon, looking down on earth. Then you may have a different perspective on it.
- When you fail you're failing towards future success.
In doing this, I was concerned they would think I was a little bit of a nerd. I did it anyway. I have never stopped being a mentor and cheerleader to them. If they want to accept or ignore my advice, that's up to them, but they will know I care--and that may be more important than any advice I could ever give to them.
When you hug your teens, to them that’s more embarrassing than awesome. When you send your kids words of advice and wisdom, that’s something they keep to themselves. When you cry at graduations, they wish you wouldn't. When you try to be funny around your kids’ friends, that’s definitely more embarrassing for them than cool. When you recall your seven year old son hitting a rare triple, and tears come to your eyes, you are definitely an emotional dad. Weddings? Forget about it!
I was guilty of sending my kids little notes or lists over the years. One of those was called “If You Want X, You Must Y”, about the responsibilities you have to accept to get what you want in life. Another was called “What I Want for My Children”. I included both in my book, “The Power of Dadhood”. Just yesterday, I found the note that included the two bullets above. I had written it in 2001. Totally forgotten until it appeared in a stack of old papers, I reflected on what they may have thought about me and my notes.
Do it anyway!
It takes guts to be a nerdy father, meaning sentimental, caring, and affectionate, because it can be embarrassing, not only for them, but for you, the father. You’re not sure how your little notes or philosophies will be taken. Maybe they are silly, or too corny, or too obvious? But it is definitely better to take the chance than too refrain from being a nurturing dad. For instance, if you can’t handle the rolling eyes of a teen, then you have a lot to learn as a father.
Dads don’t casually talk about fathering techniques to each other. Surely most are involved these days, but there are other dads that barely talk to their kids. I was not privy to words of wisdom as a young man. It wasn’t until I had years of exhaustive reading, frustration, and self-learning that I became aware of these mentoring ideas, ideas that would have helped me in my youth. I wanted my son and two daughters to have a jump on me, not that they would understand all this advice right away, but because it would make them think.
Even simple hints like, keep your chin up, swing your arms when you walk, look people in the eyes, respect older people, hug your mom--are more than words of wisdom, they are signs that you are watching, and that you care. Don’t expect them to come up and say thanks for the advice. It usually takes a few years for that to happen. Besides, you don’t do it for any reason other than to help them to reach their highest potential in life.
Early Lessons – Early Results
There is a story about two brothers. One saves and invests $2000 a year for 10 years then stops saving for the rest of his life-and lets his investments grow. The second brother saves nothing for 10 years then starts saving and investing $2000 a year for the rest his life. They both live full lives yet the second brother never catches up with the first brother in savings. He learned too late how important an early start has as a multiplier through time. When young people don’t understand key lessons in life early on, they will be at a distinct disadvantage to those that have learned and lived by those key life lessons much sooner.
Think of Them - Not Yourself!
Risk the embarrassment of love and emotion. When your children grow older and look back, they will remember how much you cared!