It is often said that no one knows us like those closest to us. A number of years ago, I was invited to speak at a father-daughter banquet. What an honor to be able to speak on the importance of the father-daughter relationship and on the role that we as men play in our daughters lives. It was a wonderful evening with my daughter, filled with dancing, good food and conversation. As a part of the festivities that evening,the daughters were given the floor to share thoughts about their dads. It was a special time, heartwarming and funny as the little girls dressed in their frilly dresses all began with, "I love my dad because..." The responses ranged from, "he takes me to the park" to "he reads me stories at bedtime". As my daughter approached the microphone, I pridefully thought to myself, you've got this! After all, I knew I did all those things and more. I was not prepared for what she said.. "I love my dad because when he gets angry and yells he says, "I am sorry". With a cheerful simile and a chuckle, she handed the microphone to the next girl.
The blood drained from my face. My initial thought was, "I am a horrible father", and now everyone knows it. You see, my daughter, son and wife all have a front row seat looking into my life. Every success, challenge or problem I struggle with, is on display. James 3:2 says, "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body". It's not really a matter of do we struggle but what we do when we struggle. Do we pridefully deny we have a problem, do we minimize it or do we make amends? It takes humility and an attitude of brokenness to be real and admit that we are all in process.
For our little ones, letting them know that we are wrong, sorry and working on it, models the very characteristics we hope to see in them as they learn to take responsibility and mature. Do you struggle to admit your faults? Are you aware that you hurt those you love at times but have a difficult time knowing how to address it? Reach out to a trusted friend, pastor or counselor. They probably already know you don't have it all together :)
As a married man and a counselor who works with couples, I am reminded daily about the importance of healthy communication. It is considered one of the foundational building blocks necessary in any relationship. Our openness as well as skill in communicating varies from person to person and is influenced by many factors including our temperament, personality and what we saw modeled in our family of origin growing up. In some families, there is a poverty of communication where family members are left to guess or make assumptions about the needs and expectations of others. In other homes, communication may not be safe and words are used to harm and attack one another creating a destructive environment.