Building Emotional Relationship with Our Children

As we head into Father’s Day weekend, I’d like to challenge you as a dad with something my wife and I were discussing last night.

How is your *emotional* relationship with each of your children?

Huh?!

I had to give this some thought myself when my wife first brought up the subject to me. You see, it is one thing to spend time with our children, to physically be there in their presence. But just being in the same house or same room with a son or daughter does not mean we are building relationship with them.

A few examples might communicate this better:

Watching tv or a movie together with your son is not really building emotional relationship with him. You are both individually engaged in the activity, but are not interacting.

Taking a nap on your daughter’s bed while she plays with dolls on the floor beside you is not building emotional relationship with her.

Building emotional relationship involves interaction and communication. It involves talking. It is connecting with our sons and daughters at a heart to heart level.

Taking your son to an interactive event or doing an activity together or teaching him a skill or sitting down to talk about a subject are ways to do this. Taking your daughter out to dinner at her favorite restaurant and a casual walk-and-talk afterwards can build emotional relationship with her.

As men, we must be very intentional with talking and engaging our children in sharing their hearts with us. They *need* this from us. They *want* this with us. They LONG for it.

I’m not perfect in this. I have a lot of ground to make up with my children. But it won’t happen if I am not intentional.

Our wives are generally “better” at building emotional relationship with our children than we guys are, so here’s a tip: Get your wife’s input on this topic! And let her be an ongoing “gauge” to give you feedback on how you’re doing with each of your children.

How about you? I’d like to hear your thoughts or comments on this topic or questions you may have. Please post them below.

Let’s make this Father’s Day weekend an opportunity to build emotional relationship with our children — and our spouse.

Blessings to you and your family,
Joey Watkins
a fellow Family Dad

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Dad Vision For Family

While taking a prayer walk recently, I was reflecting on the fact that my dad turned 72 this past year and was now fully in the “4th quarter” of his life.

3 thoughts quickly filled my mind.

30 years from now, my dad will be gone.

I will be at the same stage of life my dad is now.

And my oldest son will be my age — likely with a family of his own.

It begged several questions in my mind:

“What will it be like not having my dad around?”

“When I am his age looking back, will I be pleased with how my life turned out?”

“What am I doing to prepare my sons for their journey ahead as men, husbands, and fathers?”

Sure, they’re just kids now. And 30 years is a long time — or is it?

I believe it’s very healthy to contemplate the future. As leaders of our families, we dads must have vision. We must have plans to turn our vision into reality. And we must have perseverance and discipline to be consistent and proactive in leading our families.

Here’s an example to illustrate this.

One of my highest priorities for my children is that they have a strong knowledge and love of Scripture when they are adults. That’s part of my vision for them.

So we read Scripture together. As a family. Often. Each of our children (who are old enough to read) has their own copy of Scripture. We have “Scripture Reading Time” several times a week (my goal is daily.) We all sit together in our family room in a circle or around our dining room table. I start and we go around the room taking turns reading. I give commentary and we discuss what we read along the way. It’s a great way for them to build communication skills, but more importantly to discuss and absorb Scripture from their father. From their father – the one who was divinely given the greatest influence in their lives.

We’re also working on memorizing Scriptures together as a family, learning to hide it in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and meditate upon it (Psalm 1:2).

This is just one example of how vision becomes reality, and I’d love to hear what visions you have for your family and what you are doing to see them come to pass. So please post your comments below, and let’s learn from one another.

And always remember…

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow let us go into this city and spend a year there, trade and make a profit.’ Whereas you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? You are like a thin mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” -YA’acob 4:13-14 (called James in modern Bibles)

Blessings to you and your family,
Joey Watkins
A fellow Family Dad

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Dad, Is This Dangerous?

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,
Joey Watkins
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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When Dad Is Gone

One of the questions I ask new FamilyDads subscribers is to identify one of their biggest challenges as a dad.

More often than not, the answer I receive has to do with balancing family and work, stress, patience with their kids, and things like that.

However, one new subscriber recently shared one of his biggest challenges as a dad that I had never heard before. It really got me thinking, and I want to challenge you with it too.

He said one of his biggest challenges as a dad is:

“…not having my Dad around to ask advice, he went to be with the Lord 3 years ago.”

Whoa! That is pretty heavy.

I had several reactions when I read it.

First, I don’t want my sons to be in that position when they become dads one day. I want them to be able to come to me for advice and input when they need it. I want them to draw on my experience, insights, knowledge, and wisdom I’ve gained over the years.

Yes, we all will experience physical death at some point (unless our Messiah returns first!), but I want to be around as long as possible for my family. But unless I take personal responsibility for my health now by my choices in diet, exercise, sleep, and several other fitness factors, I’m not doing my part to make it happen.

Second, I reflected on my relationship with my own father. Do I take him too much for granted? How much longer will he be around? Am I taking advantage of his advice and experience? Is there anything I can do to help or encourage his health and longevity? How is our relationship?

And finally, I wondered about other young men who might be in a similar place without their earthly dad to go to for wisdom and advice as they walk this journey called fatherhood. Can FamilyDads do more to support these men? Are there any subscribers who would be interested in building relationships with fatherless sons like this guy?

Well, that’s a lot to think about. I hope it will do just that… get you thinking… about yourself, about your father, about other fatherless men, and about your own sons when they become dads and will need your advice and experience to draw on!

Feel free to contact FamilyDads with any ideas, suggestions, or input on any of these thoughts.

Blessings to you and your family,
Joey Watkins
Founder, FamilyDads

P.S. – FamilyDads Fitness is for dads who understand the importance of giving attention NOW to your health and fitness to avoid health problems later that would impact both you and your family. Learn more

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I Love You Son

“I love you son. I’m proud of you.”

Did you hear these words from your dad when you were growing up? If your dad is still alive, do you hear them from him now as an adult?

If you have a son, do you say these words to him? Very often?

Do you ever proclaim these words publicly about your son where both he and other men hear you?

“I love you son. I’m proud of you.”

In the New Testament of the Bible, there are only 3 recorded instances where God audibly spoke from heaven. Did you know that 2 of these 3 instances are God the Father communicating this very message to His Son Jesus?

At Jesus’ baptism, a voice from heaven spoke audibly to those who were present saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22)

At the mount of transfiguration, God again spoke, this time from a cloud, saying “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Hear him.” (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35, 2 Peter 1:17-18)

These are incredibly powerful and affirming words that boys and men of all ages long to hear — need to hear — from their father. It was important for God the Father to communicate this on more than one occasion audibly to His Son Jesus and those who were present. It was important for Jesus to hear these words audibly from His Father.

Likewise, it is important that we fathers speak these words audibly to our sons.

“I love you son. I’m proud of you.”

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