Real Dad, Real Emotions

But you’re a man!

That’s true. It’s different today though -- tell me you remember your father, grandfather, uncle, any man showing emotion, getting on your level, displaying affection, maybe even shedding a tear? Are we softer men nowadays or are we just outwardly showing our children how those men really felt inside?

If you are a Real Dad, then you feel this too. If you plan to be a Real Dad, you will feel this soon. I’m not saying our generation wasn’t raised by caring fathers. I’m not suggesting they did anything wrong. I’m stating that it’s just different nowadays and that’s good and it’s more than okay.

Let me paint a picture and share an experience with you. It was last winter; the fresh snowfall of the day prior had been adorned with a new gleaming and shiny white layer of ice that rimed the surface of the snowy landscape. It was that type of ice where you could somewhat walk on it if you balanced your weight just right, but if you didn’t your boot would end up getting filled with the cold powder of the snow below. It was beautiful to look at, but even more pleasant to listen to my 3-year-old daughter scream and giggle while sliding down the hill of our back yard at about 50mph…. well maybe like 2mph. Of course, being only three, Lennon needed some help from Real Dad to really get that purple saucer moving.

Smiles, screams, and giggles down the hill, over and over and over again – for an hour or so. Other than the developing frostbite on six of my ten fingers, it couldn’t have been a more perfect father-daughter bonding experience. “Okay, hunny, one last time and we will go in for hot chocolate. One, two, three!” Real Dad gives her one last good push… she goes forward, but the sled remains behind. And when I say “she goes forward”, what I mean specifically is that her perfect little face slides along the icy surface. The “beautiful”, “shiny”, snowy landscape I had described, has now turned pinkish in color, and now those screams of joy turned to screams of anguish.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, hunny I am so sorry!” The emotional pain I felt generated tears that matched the ones that fell from Lennon’s face. I can only repeat “I’m sorry” as I carry my precious daughter into the house and the tears only increase in volume as I see red fluid drip down Lennon’s face. I grab a towel and start to clean her up. I assessed the injuries and am relieved, no major damage, she’s fine and asking if we can go back outside, but the emotional hurt I experienced remained. In fact, as I write this and revisit that moment, I still feel that pain. Real Dad was responsible for his daughter’s pain.

Yes, I cried. Yes, she saw me cry. Yes, it’s okay. She saw her dad showing emotion and even though, to this day, she reminds me of what happened: “Dad, do you remember when you pushed me in the snow”, she also remembers how it made me feel.

So, is Real Dad a Real Softy? Maybe, but I believe having and showing Real Emotions sets an example for our children. We expect our kids to understand their emotions and know how to manage and express them, so why not show them how?

Crying is not the only emotion that is important for our children to see. A Real Dad shows affection, a Real Dad shows how to manage anger with a level head, and a Real Dad shows how to communicate these feelings. For some reason, our children have a knack of repeating the words and actions that we don’t want to be mimicked. But they aren’t only tuned into the negatives. It is our fatherly responsibility to demonstrate how to communicate and show how we are feeling in a positive and constructive way.

What if when I pushed my daughter into the snow and told her to get up and brush it off? Would she had really known I felt inside? I doubt it. So, give kisses and hugs, tell them you love them, be slow to anger and tone it down when you do get angry, and shed a tear or two– you are still a dude, it doesn’t make you less manly.

Be a Real Dad, and Show Some Real Emotions

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