When most people meet my four year old daughter, Olivia…(actually, she’s “four and a half”) they are always impressed with her self confidence and focus. She’s my little angel, but I know she will be a reflection of my ability to raise a child. Fortunately, my wife spends her days with her at home, enjoying every minute of it. They play games, read books, do craft projects, paint, and work in the yard. Basically, Olivia is our number one priority.
We have decided it’s best to struggle a little financially in order for my wife to stay home and give her “all” toward raising our only child. Is she spoiled? Probably, but not how you would think. We don’t buy a bunch of toys or spend money on things that she’ll forget about in a week. Olivia doesn’t even ask for much, except the other night, she mentioned she wanted an Ipad…to play “learning games” on. Right…”learning games.”
I guess I laugh because she reminds me of myself in so many ways, but I know I didn’t have the same confidence she has at such an early age. I’d like to think it’s because she has a father who spends time with her, building her confidence. My parents divorced when I was two, so like many children, the only “father” figures I had were my uncles and grandfather. Fortunately they were there for me when I needed them, but because they had lives of their own, or were busy building businesses, I spent most of my time with my grandmother.
I can remember thinking, at an early age, how nice it would be to have a real father…someone to teach me things and be there for me when I needed him. But, those are the thoughts we single parent kids all think. So, when I became a father, I knew I would go the extra mile to be there for my child…boy or girl.
How do I build Olivia’s confidence? Here’s just one example.
There’s a park in our neighborhood we visit to let her “exhaust” herself when she’s craving the slides, swings, merry-go-round and forts. There’s also some monkey bars/dome, with a gap at the highest point. The bars are just far enough apart, that you must straddle them, placing one foot on each bar, while holding another bar and scooting yourself to the other side, allowing you to complete the climb from one side to the other. When she was two, she wanted to climb it alone, but could barely go from bar to bar. We’d go back and each time, she’s go a little further. When she was three, she tried it again and was determined to cross the gap on her own.
I stood there, right next to her and helped place each foot on the bar. I guided her and suggested where she hold the other bars with her hands and coached her along. She was nervous…looking straight down, realizing if she fell, she could really hurt herself. But she knew she wouldn’t fall because I was right there to catch her. She re-focused and continued to cross the gap. When she made it to the other side and climbed down the rest of the way to the ground, she yelled out…”I did it!”
“Yes you did Livie!” I replied, knowing exactly how much she had to overcome to finally achieve her goal of making it to the other side on her own. I was there for her. I helped her realize she could do it on her own and gave her the confidence to try.
Fathers, be an inspiration to your children. Teach them how to succeed and guide them down the right path. Most importantly, be there for your children.