A lot of our experiences in life are directly connected to the decisions we make. Think about it.
If you lose weight, your heart grows healthier.
If you quit smoking, you live longer.
Dads, your emotions are strongly connected to choices you make.
I’m going to make a bold claim that I want you to chew on for a moment. Don’t get defensive and don’t start arguing with me inside your own head.
No matter what someone else does or says, you can choose to be happy. No matter what someone else does or says, your son or daughter can choose to be happy.
No matter what people say or do to us, we have the power to NOT let it affect the way we feel. A lot of times, we can let something a person did to us in school, at work, the parking lot, or at home dictate our levels of sadness, anger, happiness, or joy.
In fact, if you’re not careful, you can let your child’s actions determine your emotional state and, as a result, pass the same behavior on to the next generation.
Obviously, this is hard to do. And, we’re never going to be perfect.
The ultimate goal is to raise self-assured, confident individuals who can grow up feeling proud of who they are without needing someone else to say it.
Kids are too dang sensitive these days. The phrase, “Words will never hurt me,” is a thing of the past. But dads can change the trajectory of a whole generation if they learn three important ideas.
Don’t blame your kids for your own emotions
Have you ever said any of the following phrases to your kids?
- “You hurt my feelings when you said that.”
- “You made me feel sad when you did that.”
- “I’m proud of you for doing that.”
If you have, you’re not alone. We do it because we saw our own, over-sensitive parents model the same behavior for us at home. If you want to raise strong kids, you have to start demonstrating the fact that your kids are not the cause of your emotions. YOU are the reason you feel the way you do.
Try rephrasing some of the previous statements like this:
- “Was that a nice thing to say?”
- “Do you think that was the appropriate thing to do?”
- “Do you feel proud of yourself for doing that?”
Can you see the difference in the two different types of phrases? By changing the way you speak to your kids, you are showing them that their behavior doesn’t dictate your feelings.
Kids get to decide how things affect them
This means that we teach our kids it’s okay to have feelings and that they are in control of how they feel.
- It’s okay to have feelings. Comedian, Bill Burr, calls it the “shelf of emotions.” It’s the place where dads place their emotions so that they can trudge through life free of feelings. In case you’re wondering, that is NOT what we should be teaching our kids. Life is full of pain and struggle and it’s okay to have emotional reactions toward the challenges we encounter.
- They are in control. It’s okay to have emotion, but it’s not okay to let someone else control our emotions. Be open with your kids about how you let someone else dictate your emotional state. Be open with them about how you didn’t let them impact your emotional state. Show them that others are not in control and that they have the power to choose their reaction to life’s obstacles.
Podcast Ep. 102 Everyone is Responsible For My Happiness & Everyone Else Causes My Pain
Provide examples for your kids in real time
Above anything else, a child needs tangible examples if they are going to understand any idea. If you want to develop a strong kid, who can choose to be happy in the face of pain and struggle, take advantage of every teaching moment. Here are some examples of great teaching opportunities:
- “You mentioned that a kid was mean in your class today and that he hurt your feelings. Did he hurt your feelings or did you choose to let their behavior make you sad?”
- “You asked me if I was proud of you when you got an A on your test. The important thing to me, as your dad, is that you’re proud of yourself for getting good grades. Are you proud of yourself?”
- “Did that other person make you feel angry? Or did you choose to get angry over the fact that he sat in your seat at lunch?”
All of this is important for you to learn as a dad so that you can pass it on to your kids.
We should not find the majority of our happiness in other people.
Take back control.
Choose to be happy.
Don’t leave that up to someone else.