You've been patient with these posts on men and silence. This will conclude this series. I want to mention a few things that have been helpful to me in countering an unhealthy silence. I have put each one of these in the form of a suggestion. You can probably think of many that I do not mention.
1. I need to look for opportunities to encourage each child. I found that it means a great deal to my children for me to catch them doing things right. They respond well when I point out their good traits, their good habits, and good aspects about their behavior and character. Sometimes, we parents get far too focused on the negative, while we say nothing about the good. (I have been guilty of this at times.)
2. The remedy for the silent man is not to be found in making long, verbal statements to my child. More words does not mean that I am really communicating.
3. I need to consider creative ways to bless my child. Leave an encouraging note on the bathroom mirror. "You are just right!" "You are a wonderful daughter." Or perhaps leave a note with a Scripture verse on it. Not long ago I sent my married, adult child an e-mail entitled, "Five Wonderful Things about Christine."
4. Know that and be assured that deep down my children really want to be close to their dad. This can be difficult when they begin adolescence and you feel like they are pushing you away. The weird thing about adolescence is that sometimes they will be pushing you away while inwardly wanting you to be near.
5. My children need for me to be more than a friend. I want to be a friend to each of my children. Yet, they need more than another friend. They need a dad. Some parents have abandoned their parent role because they wanted to be liked by their children and seen as friends. In the long run, these children lose.
6. I need to show some interest in some of the things that interest them. Are they listening to some music that you like? Is there a game or team they have shown some interest in? Have they expressed an interest in developing a certain skill? My younger daughter, Jamie, will occasionally say to me, "Dad, have you heard this group? I think you would like them." And, so often she is right.
7. It is important that I respect them. Yes, I know they should respect their parents. However, this goes in both directions. Respecting my children means that I NEVER seek to embarrass or humiliate them in front of their friends or mine. Respecting my children means that I do not point out their faults for others to see. My humor does not need to come at their expense. Showing respect for my children means that on occasion I might point out their strengths or good traits to others. "Yes, Mark has always been a Civil War buff. He knows much more than I do about those battles."
When we break the silence, we look out for their needs and refuse to settle for whatever might be comfortable for ourselves.
When we break the silence, we communicate to our children that they are not alone in this world to fend for themselves.
When we break the silence, we communicate that the worth of our daughter or son has nothing to do with being in the right group, having athletic ability, or having parents who have money.
When we break the silence, we communicate a sense of "OK-ness." We communicate that they are created in the image of God and that they are worth something.
When we break the silence, we communicate that they matter to God, to their family, and to others in this world.
Where does this begin? With intent and with prayer. Our children will be blessed.