Last week I was with two of my kids at their favorite spot down in our woods which has a tree that blew over and is laying on its side in the shape of a rainbow.
At about 5 feet off the ground at its highest point, this “rainbow tree” as we’ve named it makes a perfect athletic challenge for my kids who love to climb on it.
My eight-year-old son made his way to the highest part of the sideways trunk and proudly asked me…. “Dad, is this dangerous?”
Without hesitation, I *almost* replied… “No, not really. It’s not that high.”
But then, I had a slight impression to mentally probe a little deeper into the motive behind his question. What was he really asking me?
“Dad, am **I** dangerous?” “Dad, do I have what it takes to be a man?” “Dad, as my father, as the man I most look up to, respect, and admire at this stage of my life, do you affirm me?”
Before me was an opportunity to either casually ignore my son’s inquisition about his growth toward manhood, or to build him up in it.
“Yes, son. That IS dangerous. Be careful!” came out of my mouth instead.
And so, with a smile back at me, my son continued to conquer the sideways rainbow tree, beaming at the thought of how “dangerous” he was. In a good way.
Application for me as a dad: Always consider my words when interacting with my children. Never be flippant in my responses to them. Sometimes, probably more often than not, there is more “below the surface” to their questions. When giving answers, look for ways to affirm, validate, and communicate to my children that I love them deeply and respect them as individuals.
For daughters, the questions may come out more like… “Am I pretty?” “Can you spend time with me?” “Can we do something together?” For she is looking for affirmation from her father of both her outward AND inward beauty. And she wants to know that you treasure her and desire to pursue relationship with her.
And remember… this applies to our children at any age.
Blessings to you and your family,
a fellow Family Dad
PS – One of the most impactful interviews I’ve ever heard on this topic of validating our sons and daughters as their fathers was this video interview with John Eldredge. It’s a MUST-WATCH!
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