In the movie October Sky, which is based on a true story, a father and son struggle in their relationship. Homer Hickam is a teenager with dreams of escaping the fate of working in the coalmine of his small West Virginia town. His father, John, is the mine foreman, whose whole life is the mine. For John, Homer is not only rejecting the mine, but he’s rejecting him and the life he has provided for his family. The hurt that John feels causes him to act out in angry ways toward his son, which makes their relationship more and more tenuous.
Many fathers feel the deep pain of being rejected by their children, even when those children are still living under their roof. Forgiveness and reconciliation are possible. But as the father, you must take the first step. Here are 10 things to do for a child who has rejected you.
1. Analyze it.
Take a step back and look at the entire picture. Attempt to pinpoint when things might have changed. Was there a certain event? A moment that created distrust? Is your spouse contributing knowingly or unknowingly to the situation? Seek out people who are insightful and wise to help you. The causes could be many, but it’s important to try to understand the root of the problem.
2. Take action.
After determining where the problem may lie, certainly begin to take action. Children need strong guidance and especially love. Neither can be had when resentment or rejection have taken hold. Immediately and tirelessly dedicate yourself to finding a way to properly connect with your child.
3. Break the ice.
Find a way to break the ice and establish a positive moment. Bribery is not the answer, but a well-thought-out gift can work wonders at times—an adorable teddy bear, the skateboard he’s been wanting, something meaningful to your child. No strings attached. No long, drawn-out lectures. Just something nice to show you care.
4. Focus on common ground.
What do you have in common? Sports? Music? Math? It could be anything you both enjoy. Perhaps your stepson is a basketball player and you played in high school. Toss him the ball and challenge him to show you what he’s got. If he drops the ball and walks inside, try again the next day. Don’t get discouraged. Eventually, he’ll overcome the temptation to hurl animosity toward you and he’ll agree to play. The idea is to find a way to be together.
5. Change your demeanor.
Are you quiet and shy? Strong and demanding? Loud and obnoxious? Fun-loving and easy-going? How are you coming across to the child who is rejecting you? You want her to feel at ease with you, but maybe she’s intimidated by your presence. Try to use calm, friendly tones. If you are shy, try to give reassuring smiles. Open up. If you’re strong and loud, tone it down and relax. Your demeanor could have everything to do with the problem.
6. Be respectful.Give kids the respect they deserve even if it’s not reciprocated.
Lack of respect creates great divides. Give kids the respect they deserve even if it’s not reciprocated. Knock on their door before entering. Stay off the phone if they are on it. Little things that show a level of mutual understanding. You deserve the same respect back, but it will have to be earned. One of you has to give in first and you are the adult. Act like it.
7. Be patient and understanding.
Relationships can be difficult and take a long time to grow. Do your best to comprehend who your child is and what they are going through. Learn how they think and react. Figure out why they are hurting. Winning “hearts and minds” requires understanding your opponent. Your child is not an opponent but in this situation, he or she is certainly a challenge.
8. Take a personal inventory.
What kind of man are you? It’s time to take stock and see where you are falling short. We are all flawed in many ways. Perhaps your shortcomings are creating this rejection. Do you treat others decently and honestly? Are you kind-hearted and compassionate? Children have strong abilities to sense when something is not right. A hard and honest look in the mirror is required on a regular basis. Change for the better and remember you can be and are forgiven.
9. Get counseling.
In some cases, family counseling may be called for and can be extremely beneficial. A skilled outside party can get past the obstacles standing in the way and find the root of the trouble. Your relationship with your child is worth every possible effort.
10. Work on your communication.
If you aren’t talking, then nothing can be accomplished. Trust stems from communication and trust is only found in honesty. Never give up trying to establish this bond with your child. Adjust your tactics as required but each day, work on it. Use humor, wisdom, or whatever you can. Just open those lines up.
Sound off: What is the hardest part about being rejected by your children?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever felt rejected?”