by Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield
Dad, if you’re like many parents I’ve talked with recently, you’ve probably been a bit challenged in knowing how to help your kids process all the crazy events in the news this past month. Clearly, our nation is in a volatile place right now, and I can only pray that it’s all leading us to more understanding and unity going forward.
I hope you view the difficult and often shocking headlines and videos as opportunities to teach and connect with your children.
January 6th of this year might be the best example: A protest gone wrong at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
I want to say here at the start that I’m not taking a political stand. I’m not presenting a case that leans right or left. That’s not my point today.
I don’t believe this is the time to get into debates about being blue or red. Instead, I believe this is a critical time to stand united as father and daughter, even if your political views differ. This is the time for you to lean in to take care of each other like never before.
If we want to see our nation move towards healing, it starts at home.
I’ve been doing some heavy pondering these past couple of weeks and I imagine that your children (even yourselves) are in deep thought as well. None of us know what things will look like tomorrow, next week, or even next month during our national transition of power.
Based on interactions I’ve been having, here’s what I would like to say on behalf of your kids (of any age):
- They are scared.
- They don’t know who to be angry at.
- They don’t know who to trust.
- Their emotions are spilling over into anything and everything, often with responses and reactions that are inappropriate to the situation at hand.
- They don’t know what their future will look like, because the country as they’ve known it feels different than ever before.
As many of you know, I published a second book last year titled, Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters for Dads and Daughters with 60 scripts for dads to dialogue with your daughters (which also work with dads and sons). Can I just tell you that it never even crossed my mind to include a template for you as fathers to interact with your girls on the state of the nation?
But here we are now.
I believe there’s no better time than the present for you to encourage your kids to talk to you while you listen. After all, we never forget the people who are truly there for us when we’re in the storm, do we?
Right now is the right time for you to interact with them because the more you’re a sounding board without trying to fix their problems while they vent and express themselves, the more you’ll help them process their emotions and experiences. And you’ll see that a power takes root in a son or daughter when they fully believe that they matter because what they think and feel matters.
So, enough of me talking.
Now it’s up to you to encourage your son and daughter to talk … to you and with you.
I want you to text or call him or her right now to set up a time to connect (either in person or remotely) so that you can listen, validate, love, and support them during this tumultuous time. I assure you that they’re feeling the intensity in the atmosphere right now, and who better to be there for an extra dose of TLC than you?
Then when you get together, use this following script to go deeper with them while you intentionally choose to:
- listen without lecturing.
- be kind without correction.
That said, I challenge you to bring this script with you as you engage your kids in conversation. These questions are designed for you to encourage them to open up because it will help them figure things out as they give them a voice. Then feel free to share your thoughts and feelings with them … if they’re open to hearing you, that is.
I’d love to hear how it goes. We’re in this together and I’m cheering you on!
Dad, you can download a PDF of these questions below:
Read more of Michelle’s articles here.
Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield is a licensed professional counselor in Portland, Oregon, founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum for dads of daughters (ages 13 to 30), and author of Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters for Dads and Daughters and Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart (both available on Amazon and Audible). She also hosts a weekly radio program in Portland called “The Dad Whisperer,” which you can access as a podcast on her website and on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play Music. Visit drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.