The big guy across the table from me struggled to give voice to his emotions but his emotions were winning out. Thanksgiving being next Thursday, he said he was writing out what his adult daughters and his wife meant to him. We other four men in our breakfast group listened to his extraordinary plans. He’s going to share them Thanksgiving day. He’s big as a bear (so I’ll call him Bear) but doesn’t readily express his emotions. He said he had nearly three pages of hand-written notes, affirming the specific qualities of the three women closest to him.
Talk about something powerful! We were impressed.
About our group. We’ve been meeting every Thursday morning for several years. Having just finished discussing Second Timothy, we wanted something different. D.J. Young’s little workbook, You’re Still Their Dad—Fathering Your Adult Children, seemed like a good change of pace. Yesterday, we had our second discussion on “The Need for Affirmation.”
You ask, “Affirmation?” Yes. We all need affirmation. And who better to give those words to our children than us dads? Gary said he’s going to teach his new daughter-in-law how to prepare the turkey dinner for Thursday. Dave and Bear and I (each for separate reasons) didn’t have a Dad role model so we are super motivated to give to our kids what we didn’t get. Pastor Ken said his dad affirmed him all his growing up years. He read Psalm 103:13. But I’m getting off track …
Most of us in our group have adult children who’ve flown the nest to establish their own lives. We’ve learned not to intrude. We’ve been rebuffed (or ignored) just enough when we’ve tried to “help” them that we don’t have to be told to butt out. Okay, it’s not always that bad. (Sometimes it is.) They don’t need our help and they surely don’t want us hovering … I’ll do it my way; I’m grown up now.
They’re right. They are grown up. And they are living in a different world. So we dads have withdrawn. Which is probably why D.J. Young (my guest blogger in September) asked the question in his booklet: “Do my adult children still need me?”
Without pondering it very much, most of us dads decided that the answer is NO.
We pushed our parents away; our kids push us away. But maybe we haven’t been looking at the right things. D.J. put careful thought into the question and he lists nine (yeah, 9) needs of adult children that we dads can fulfill. Besides affirmation, he lists encouragement, role model, rewards … You better get D.J.’s workbook.
So I developed a list for each of my three kids. Now, I’m getting all teared up. Wait a minute while I blow my nose. I am so blessed. One daughter and two sons. Each one different but all so very special. And I am forever their dad! So yes, they need me. I will affirm each one, naming specific personality and character traits.
Dads, would you like to do that? You’ll be blessed. Get a pen and paper. Right now. Be specific. Think of a time when you can tell them. Practice it. Maybe have a tissue handy.
The prophet Malachi speaks — He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents … (4:6a)