When I was a child, I read Superman comics. I liked how my super hero saved lives and fought vicious criminals. I wanted to grow up to be just like him. Well, I’m no super hero, just an ordinary guy. But dads like me do have the power of being super for our kids by showing them how much we care. Here’s how you can become a Super Dad.
Step 1. Role Modeling
Dr. Laurie Patlin Suttenberg, DSW, LCSW, DCSW says, “One of the very important functions of being a parent is role modeling, and, as such, fathers face a similar challenge as mothers to be the best role models possible for their children to emulate.” That’s why it’s so important for dads to take their fatherhood seriously.
Step 2. Be Emotionally Available
Children need their fathers to be emotionally available. Super dad is threaded into the emotional fabric of his family showing his love in comforting and consistent ways. When Vic’s daughter, Nina was a sophomore in college, he sent her flowers. That evening she called her mom. “I was so touched by Daddy’s thoughtfulness,” she said. “I only hope I can find a husband as kind and considerate as Daddy.” This wasn’t an isolated event. Vic is a key player in his daughters’ lives.
Step 3. Ask the Right Questions
A super dad doesn’t need to tell his child what to do, just ask his kid the right questions. One Friday evening during dinner, Laurie, then in eighth grade, told Vic about a Social Studies project due Monday morning. The next day she asked her father if she could go with her friends to the movies.
“Did you finish your project?” he asked.
“Will you have time to do the necessary work?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Then I think you need to ask yourself that movie question, not me.”
Laurie stayed home and did her work. Vic helped instill in his child the skills needed to make conscientious decisions.
Step 4. Develop Positive Communication Skills
Dr. Suttenberg says, “Parents need to know when to talk, when to listen, when to compromise, when to let it slide, and when to stand firm.” As she points out, “Positive communication skills between parent and child require years of practice.” Like anything else, the more you practice, the greater the rewards it will reap.
Step 5. Be Supportive
There are also times when super dad needs to say little, but be as supportive as an iron beam.
One day my daughter, Koren, was dismissed from high school early; it was a minimum day. She asked if I would drive her friend home. Susan lived out of our way, but I agreed.
After we dropped Susan off I said, “That was nice of you to help out your friend.”
After the twenty-minute drive home, while I was unpacking groceries Koren asked me for the keys to the car. When she came back, I noticed her eyes were puffy, holding back a flood of tears.
“What’s the matter?”
“I can’t find my retainer. I think I left it in Biology class. Can you take me back to school to find it?”
Koren had lost her retainer before. She had paid half the cost to the orthodontist. She knew she would have to pay the full $150 this time.
I said, “Sure, let’s go.”
While driving to school, I noticed her furrowed brow and her wringing hands. She was beating herself up better than any lecture I could give.
We found the retainer on the floor of her classroom and returned to the car. I said, “You know, you owe me one.”
“Yeah! What is it?” Her eyebrows jettisoned skyward.
“Do the same for your son or daughter one day. For the same reason you helped Susan I helped you. Each one of us is put here for the distinct purpose of making life easier for each other. I was given that opportunity today. I just hope you’ll do the same for your kids.”
“I will Daddy, and thank you.”
The truth—Vic isn’t Batman and I am definitely not Clark Kent in disguise. We’re just regular guys, dads that are there for our kids, showing them how much we care.