Mistakes dads often make when problem-solving tend to fall into three categories:
Rage quitting; or
Jumping the gun.
Problem-solving is a chance to weld together a relationship built on trust, love, and reliability. Anything less than a total commitment to finding a resolution is a wasted opportunity.
It’s the Homer Simpson of all stuff-ups.
The That 70’s Show “dumb ass” answer from Red Forman (Kurtwood Smith) to everything.
It’s the common dismissal: “kids will be kids,” “they’re just as bad as each other,” and the buck-passing, “go tell your mother.”
The dad who divorces himself from his kids’ problems sets his kids and himself up to fail.
There’s an added bonus to avoiding these mistakes. Dads who work a problem through with their kids are coaching their kids in problem-solving.
This is why good communication skills are essential kit for the dad who chooses to fight for and alongside his kids, not against them.
Although my 20-plus-years of experience co-raising three girls and two boys hasn’t been a flawless run, I’ve long admired the skill of solving a problem before it becomes an even bigger one.
This is an ethos I’ve long tried to apply in my own bumbling barefooted parenting.
Having the ability to work problems goes a long way toward avoiding the pitfalls of poor communication.
Knowing how to work a problem can mean the difference between making a problem worse, and solving one.
Simply by being attentive, many a problem can be neutralised before it snowballs into an avalanche of anger, angst, and anxiety.
Veteran Mentors, an Australian Army Veteran organisation helping teens, mums, and dads, argues that ‘opening dialogue and taking the time to work through the problem in a calm and quiet space’ is a key to motivating solutions.
‘Offer practical advice and ideas about what their next steps might be, or simply offering them reassurances that they can always come to you in the future with similar issues and concerns. Going forward, you should try to keep your communication as open as possible on a daily basis.’
Likewise, in a piece on communication, CBS recently inferred that parents who take stock of their actions, actively listen, and use open-ended questions with their kids, have a better handle on solving present and potential problems than those who don’t.
CBS encouraged parents to remember that “smaller fires are easier to put out than bigger fires. So, reach out sooner rather than later.”
Ryan Sanders, a lay pastor and Colson Centre fellow, writes that the quality of a relationship a dad has with his kids will determine his level of influence. Attentiveness wins.
Sanders notes that ‘your relational investment now will reap future dividends, making it easier to cover serious topics when they arise.’
‘It’s important your kids know your door is open and they can talk to you about anything. Help your kids be comfortable by asking questions like: “Mind if I check back with you on this later in the week?” or “What did I miss? Do you feel like I answered your question?”
Let them know they can come to you with their problems and are willing to help your kids solve them.
Dads are called to be the ultimate peacemakers.
For me, calmly breaking down a problem to its grounding in basic facts, has been an effective way to solve a problem, resolve conflict, or reconcile the wronged with the wrongdoer.
Discretion and discernment are as important as patience and humility.
Some problems don’t have easy answers, and some answers will only open doors to more questions.
Be firm, but fair. Invest in open dialogue. It pays off well in the end.
Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.
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