Because I write books and share tips and advice the last thing I want people to think is that I sit on my high horse and have it all figured out. The truth is, my best advice and lessons come more from my mistakes and failures than success.
My kids are 23 and 21. On Father's Day I reflected on my journey as a Dad. One mistake I made as a parent was I put too much pressure on them. At times they felt my expectation but not enough connection. I got better as they got older but wish I did things different when I was younger. I can't change my past but hope this helps you or someone you know. It's why I'm passionate about Positive Leadership and why I've become a good teacher. I've made mistakes and learned what doesn't work and what does. I recently was asked what I wished I would have done different. Here are a few things:
- Focus on the moment instead of what’s next.
- Support and listen to them instead of giving advice.
- More trust and less fear.
- Ask what they want to do instead of telling them what they should do.
- Focus more on happiness than success.
- Let them figure it out instead of figuring it out for them.
- Bring calm energy instead of tense anxious energy.
I'm a driven person but I've learned that what makes me successful in my career doesn't make me successful as a Dad. I believe the key is less drive and more love. More encouragement and less intensity. More fun and less stress. Sure there is a time to push and challenge your children but unconditional love and connection are so much more important.
I believe the greatest gifts a Dad can give his children are:
- Love them
- Believe in them
- Guide them
- Spend time with them
- Listen to them
- Pray for them
No one is perfect. We will all make mistakes as parents. But I've found that unconditional love has a way of covering your mistakes. When your children know you love them and they feel your love they'll forgive you.
I know because my wife, kids and I sat around the table a month ago and I apologized for the mistakes I made as a Dad. On Father's Day they talked about how much I loved them and what I did right, not what I did wrong. Vulnerability and love allows for healing. Healing allows for growth. Growth allows you to create the future together instead of being angry about the past.
P.S., Make sure you listen to my recent podcast with Dan Orlovsky. He shared phenomenal advice on how much is too much when pushing your kids to be their best.