Have you ever had that moment when you look at your kids and think to yourself, “Yikes! They’re turning out like me.” The other day, our family sat down for dinner. My 11-year old son, my 4-year old daughter, and I sat down at the table with our shirts off. It was only when my wife said that “it’s nice to have dinner with my three children” that I noticed my kids were only in their underwear. They were mimicking something I had done before. Hopefully my kids will wear clothes at the dinner table when they get older, but it isn’t always funny when kids turn out like their dads.
As much as our kids mimic the silly or good things we do, they also adopt our bad habits. Odds are good our kids are going to become just like us, so we have to ask ourselves honestly: Is that a good thing? Maybe we’d like our kids to take after us in some things. But if we drop the ball in these 4 ways, it will lead to our kids’ failure.
1. You don’t admit your weaknesses.There is no growth where there is no honest reflection.
I get it. I hate admitting my shortcomings, but I have them. And so do you. When you can’t admit your weaknesses, limitations, and mistakes, what you model to your kids is that it’s better to hide them than to expose them. There is no growth where there is no honest reflection. Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about your weaknesses and how you’re seeking to move past them. Modeling this gives them confidence and takes away an unhealthy fear of weaknesses.
2. You never seek feedback.
If I challenged you to ask your boss how you’re doing at work, how would you feel about that? What if I told you to ask your kids how you’re doing as a dad? If either of those questions causes you pause or annoyance, you may struggle with receiving feedback. When we fail to seek out feedback from others, we model for our kids that they should go it alone. But we all have blind spots. Only people you trust can tell you what they are. Isolation is dangerous and sometimes deadly. Show your kids you’re willing to receive help from others.
3. You can’t say you’re sorry.
We’re all going to blow it with our families from time to time. As a student pastor, I’ve counseled many students. One of the biggest hurts kids carry around is a parent who can’t apologize and seek forgiveness. Many dads miss the irony when they can’t apologize to their kids for mistakes because it’s actually a blessing and relationship builder. When we can’t admit fault and say sorry to our kids, we model that reconciliation is impossible. This sets our kids up for failure and ensures that they hold grudges well into adulthood.
4. You fail to take action.
I’ve realized more recently that I’ve been taking out my frustrations on my kids and giving them the scraps of energy from my day. Though that’s wrong, the bigger failure would be to realize this and take no action to change. When we don’t change our behavior or we’re unwilling to change when we know things could be better, that is failing to take action. And kids whose parents don’t take action become adults who don’t take action, either. No dad is perfect and we’re going to fail. But failure doesn’t have to be final. If you attempt to make the right changes in order to love your kids better, the payoff will be kids who know overcoming failure is possible.
Sound off: Which of these five points hits closest to home for you and why?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think I can do to love you better?”