Are You Supposed to Meet all of your Child’s Needs?

So, as a young dad, I had just recalled a statement that this guy in his late 60s, this uber father from South Africa, I don’t remember his name now, this is maybe 15 years ago. He said something to me that really impacted my understanding of fatherhood, and I’ve applied it to literally a hundred different scenarios in my life as a dad, and so I want to just bring it up to you guys, get your take on this, Jeff. But what he said to me is, “A father doesn’t meet every need. A father sees that every need is met.” One of the things he was trying to say is that, hey Jeremy, there’s going to be a lot of things that you want your kids to experience or want your kids to have that you’re not going to be able to give them.

And so there’s a couple of different attitudes you can have. You can say, well, no, my kids are constrained by what I can give them. That’s all they’re going to get, you know? That’s one way you can do it. Or you could just throw your hands up and say, I don’t know, I don’t know that much math or I don’t know that trade, or I don’t know that thing. I guess they’re not going to get that. It’d be passive. But what this quote really helped me to understand is that I want to give my kids what they need, if I have it, but to never feel like ashamed of the fact that there’s a lot of things that I just can’t give my kids. But there’s something still I can do, which is I can make sure that that need is met.

In my network, I can find somebody who can help train them in that area. We just on a previous podcast, a couple of podcasts ago, I just mentioned that my buddy Ryan has been mentoring my son, Jackson. You know, Jackson really loves construction. He loves to work with his hands. I am completely terrible at that stuff. I did not have that ability, Jackson’s way past me already. But I have a lot of friends who are awesome at that. And so I just have asked my friends over time, you know, hey, would you mind investing in my son or my daughter in this area? And so I want my kids to pass me and all kinds of areas. But they also have a problem; their network is really tiny. You know, they don’t know people who can really help them in a lot of areas, I do though.

And so sometimes you have to be bold as a dad and just ask friends of yours, or maybe if you’re discipling people, people that you’ve built into. Hey, is there any way that you’d be willing to spend some time with my son or my daughter in this area, something like that. Again, see that every need is met. Don’t be passive about the stuff that you aren’t necessarily competent in and don’t downplay it. You know, one of the things I honestly am ashamed of saying, but before I got this quote, I remember that I really was one of those dads who started to feel like, well, my kids are just going to be constrained by what I know, and if I don’t know it, then maybe it’s not that important. You know? And I think that that was just a really kind of proud and almost defensive way of approaching fatherhood, as opposed to saying no, like I want my ceiling to be my kids’ floor. I want them to go past me in all kinds of areas and so I need to be active about that.

And we can subtly keep our kids back from really pursuing things that they may be uniquely gifted at. If we’re subtly concerned that it’s going to make us feel incompetent or that there’s any even subtle, slight competitiveness, when you start to see your kids, you know, really pursue something with passion. And so you really have to turn that on its head and say, I am going to help you with this thing. And even though this is not something I’m good at or I understand, I’m not going to make fun of it, I’m not going to downgrade it. I’m going to help you pursue it. I’m going to help you find the means to really excel at the things that you know, God’s really built you to do well, that’s different than the way I’m built.

And so this quote has been one of the things that just has rung in my head over and over again. A father doesn’t meet every need. He sees that every need is met. But yeah, Jeff, what are your thoughts about that?

Yeah, no, I feel like you nailed it. I wouldn’t add much. The only thing I would say is just a fun kind of language thing that I like to think about is like, I’m not necessarily the person that can give the kids all the answers, but I’m the game maker. My job is the game maker above the board, moving all the pieces, you know what I mean? And I think you have to take a proactive approach that you are over your kids, hopefully using all your resources and assets and your intellect and network to kind of move the pieces to let them become their best selves. You know? And I think thinking about it like that is really helpful. So that’s what I would say.

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