being present with my children

3 Ways You Have to Show up for Your Kid

My oldest daughter is on the junior varsity cheerleading team. On Thursday nights when they play, there are no dads in the stands. You might rationalize missing a game or two. But, nine out of 10 games, I haven’t seen any other dads. What do you think the absence of dads at the games says to their kids? 

The things you do as a dad today affect your relationship with your kid later.

The things you do as a dad today affect your relationship with your kid later. First Timothy 3:4 says, “He must manage his own household competently…” Your primary responsibility as a dad is to be there for your kids. It’s vital I do the work of being present with my children. Being there says you love them, you value them, and you care. Here are 3 ways you have to show up for your kid.

1. Show up physically.

My daughter probably never noticed whose parents were there and whose weren’t. The season ended and the year-end awards banquet was last week. When she arrived home with her certificate in hand, we reminisced about the season and all she had learned. By being there, I reinforced to her how much I care. Trust me, watching a local JV game over NFL Thursday Night Football wasn’t always easy. But, between practices and games, I used my choices to show her that she’s valued.

2. Show up mentally.

My younger daughter once ran for class president. She didn’t win. I remember the talks and tears after the results that night. We had spent time printing headshots, creating posters, and talking through her campaign promise. It was an awful feeling to lose, but she learned a lot during that season. As I think back, thankfully, I was there through it all. My mind was in the game. Think about what your child’s experiencing right now. Is there anything tough to deal with? You can be physically present but mentally absent. Focus and engage. 

3. Show up emotionally.

Two different girls recently told one of my daughters some ugly things. One girl told her she should cut her hair. Another girl told her she was too skinny. In both instances, I could sense my daughter felt confused. To help her process what happened and talk through her feelings, I needed to be emotionally present. 

Why is it that we don’t seem to get into the emotional stuff our kids are dealing with? Are we uncomfortable with emotion? Or, do we avoid putting in the work to connect emotionally? Maybe we’re so easily distracted by our own issues that we feel like we can’t handle more emotional stress. We need to make time for lots of connecting points with our kids. When your kids are young, it’s joining in their interests and sharing experiences together. As they mature, it’s about knowing when to let them grow through pain rather than brushing it off and going for ice cream.

Sound off: Which of these three ways of showing up comes most easily to you? And which one’s most difficult?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s something I can do to help you when you’re having a hard day?”