When your son is a little boy, he constantly checks if dad is noticing him. Does dad see him kick the ball or make the hoop? Does dad notice that he got a new tooth, or said a new word, colored in the lines for the first time, or tried to read to his little brother? If so, does dad (and this is really important) approve of what he saw? If the answer is yes, then your son feels good about himself and therefore about life. He can move forward being confident.
As intently as your son watches his father for positive feedback, he watches just as carefully for negative feedback. If he got an A on a test and his father just shrugged his shoulders, the boy will feel that his effort wasn’t good enough. The A doesn’t mean anything because it seems that, in his fathers eyes, he missed the mark. If his father watches a soccer game where he scores a goal but then tells him that the goal was great but that he could have made two, he removes his cleats feeling like a loser.
A fathers words are powerful. Every encounter with his dad makes a boy feel either better or worse about himself, depending on his fathers reactions and tone. Every day, a boy tries to figure out more about himself and life. He is maturing, changing, watching his own character unfold, and trying to decide who he is and where he fits. Much of this is learned by what his father believes about him. Does his dad like what he sees? If he does, then the boy integrates that acceptance into a person. His dads approval in these, then his self esteem and belief in himself sky rocket.
Unfortunately the same is true when your son feels rejected by his father. When dad disapproves, your son can carry negative feelings about himself for years to come. Of course, a father will not like everything his son does as he goes through life. He may not like a haircut, disagree with choice of friends, or disapprove of his academic path. Does this mean that it is inevitable that a father is going his son for years to come? Not at all! A father can disagree with his sons choices but instill in him a deep sense of self-worth. The key is that he needs to let his son know early on that he approves of him as a person, even if he doesn’t agree with all his choices. He must communicate to his son(s) that he accepts him as a unique, irreplaceable part of his life.
When a dad teaches his son that his existence is a gift and that as his dad he cares for and cherishes that gift, he is free to disagree with his sons choices later in life without scarring the boy. One of the best ways for a father to teach this to his son is by encouraging him during times of failure. For instance, if a boy misses the winning penalty kick for his soccer team, or gets dumped by his first girlfriend, if his father comes to him and lets him know that regardless of those failures, he believes that he is an awesome kid, and that all will be well. Moments of perceived failures are the best times for fathers to show his son that he matters and his love for him is unyielding.
** It’s all about finding the calm in the chaos **