Father’s Day comes once a year and it’s a wonderful tradition. But don’t dads who work hard and who are involved in their families’ lives deserve to be recognized every day? Just like everyone else in the family, dads need support, recognition, and approval every day. And sure, birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions should be celebrated when they occur, but why can’t dads - and moms for that matter - be acknowledged every day? The fact of the matter is that if we choose to, almost every day can be an important day to celebrate or recognize not only dads, but everyone in the family.
If you support the idea of appreciation and recognition throughout the year, wonderful things will happen. Not only will everyone in the family develop an appreciation of each other’s efforts, talents, and skills, they’ll develop the ability to communicate their appreciation, too. And who doesn’t like to hear what a great job they did? Or how well they did on a test, or at a sporting event? Communicating recognition on a daily basis will help develop the drive and motivation to achieve more in life. It doesn’t need to stop there, though. Gestures of appreciation for little things can help encourage motivation and enthusiasm too. It doesn’t take much effort to say things like, "Hey! Great job cleaning up, thanks for pitching in." Or, "You showed real patience helping your brother with his homework, thank you." Statements like these will go a long way to help everyone feel like they are worthy and deserving and it will encourage them to do more.
That’s a big part of being a parent - making sure that our kids feel capable, involved, and recognized. And who better to hear encouragement, recognition, or compliments from than their parents? As parents, we have more potential to build our kids’ emotional development than anyone else. So let’s remember to share ourselves. Seek out the moment to moment experiences that can be noticed and praised. Make a point to look for things to acknowledge. Yes, it takes time, thought, and effort, but what you’ll get back in return is immeasurable and permanent. And you’ll know that your efforts are paying off when you see praise, recognition and positive feelings within the whole family.
I often hear that some people weren’t taught to nurture, encourage, or praise others. It just wasn’t built into their family’s structure. So why would they magically behave this way as adults and parents? But even if you weren’t encouraged to act this way growing up, you can certainly develop these wonderful habits now. Try making a little toast at dinner about something: “Here’s to togetherness!” What’s wrong with something as simple as that? Or try toasting a good grade on a test or even just a good effort. And it’s not even so terrible to toast yourself – “Here’s to me, the dad who got home in time for dinner even though the boss was pressuring me to stay late!” That not only sends a message of love and devotion, it models the ability to talk proudly of ourselves. Of course it’s not always easy to be supportive and positive, especially if you’ve had a lousy day. We all have stress and challenges and sometimes even more serious issues at hand. But let’s remember what our priorities are and keep focused on the most important jobs we have: raising our kids and showing love to our families.
Changing or improving any behavior can feel a little awkward at first. So even though no one’s used to you praising or complimenting them, once you get the hang of it, you might really start to enjoy giving and getting praise and recognition. Here’s an anecdote to make this point: One dad I worked with started complimenting his family but he began getting responses like, "Oh? What do you want?" as if her were angling for a special favor from his wife. But he hung in there and persistently stated that he just wanted to make sure everyone knew how proud he was and how much he loved them. Over time, his family dynamics really did change.
If you’d like to change some of the ways you communicate, remember that habits and behavior like communication are learned over time. And in order to change, we need to first become more observant and aware of how we currently think and behave. You can start the process of behavioral change by slowing down your reaction time a little. Don’t be in such a rush to respond or to make your point. Take a couple of extra seconds to think about events as they happen. How do you want your next statement or response to be perceived? Try to decide if what you’re about to say or do will fit with what you want to communicate. If you take time to slow down the whole thought process, you’ll become much more aware of everything. This is a process called Mindfulness and is the topic of another article of mine, While this sort of behavioral change takes time, like they say: “ Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but it sure was worth it.
©Joshua Kates 2019