Fatherly guidance can sometimes come across to our children as a subtle message of incapability or over-stepping on a child’s need to make things their own way and do projects themselves. Parental over-helping can reinforce the feelings of shame and incapability which can occur with adopted kids. Although Dad may intend to encourage, the opposite may result.
One way Dad can help children learn to be more comfortable with taking on new skills, kids is to be overt in his own efforts to struggle with learning. When Dad comments on his personal inadequacies but does it with confidence and humor, he teaches his children that mastery takes time and occurs throughout life. It takes courage for dad to admit that he is not an expert in everything. Dad is not superman, he is a loving real figure that can honestly admit his shortcomings and even embrace his learning opportunities.
This presents a powerful message to children. It demonstrates that being a novice is not an embarrassment but a step to future excellence. Dad can model his willingness to be a beginner by learning something together with his child. They can both be novices simultaneously. Or, in a reversal of the usual role, the child can teach a skill to Dad. Not only does this open the door to learning, but it also leads to communication and a chance to bond together as they struggle through their mutual learning curve to proficiency. Patience and an encouraging tone of voice are essential. Kids, especially adopted kids, tend to be self-critical and they can be hypersensitive to parental criticism.
It’s never too late and never too early to become learning partners as a family. During the month of June, in how many ways can you learn with your child?