Discovering your dad superpowersWritten by Daniel Huerta
The influence my dad had on me as a young boy was unequalled. I can still picture him telling stories, playing with us, working hard to provide for us, laughing and correcting us. He was the strongest man I knew and seemed invincible. His words had power in my heart and his presence was an essential ingredient in our home. My dad didn’t just have abilities – he had superpowers.
Like moms, dads bring their own unique and essential “superpowers” to the home. Each man is unique and his skills are of tremendous value to his family. Which “dad skills” are superpowers in disguise? How can dads exercise and improve them?
The power of observation might not sound impressive, but it’s a huge deal. Most of our communication is non-verbal, conveyed through tone and body cues. Because of this, we tend to miss out on a lot of information that others are sharing.
This superpower requires a lot of practice, trial and error. Some people are better at it than others. But watch what happens when you take note of your kids’ words and actions and reflect those back to them verbally. Honing this skill will give you insight into each person in your family and will deepen the connection you have with them.
Ask your kids if you are reading their thoughts correctly as you observe them. Take time to look into your child’s eyes and say, “I notice…” or “I think that you…” Observe their emotions and the things they have been talking about. Take a guess about what might be on their mind in a playful way. They will let you know if you are right or wrong. You’ll be amazed how much it means to kids to know you’re trying to see into their world. The main question is, “Why not?” Invest the time and energy and watch your superpower improve.
Dads can build both physically and verbally. We all have the capacity to build things with Lego® with our kids. Why not look up how to build things on YouTube? You could make an epic homemade Slip ’n Slide in the backyard or plant a garden.
I can still remember the superhero strength I felt as my two young children helped me build our first playset. We drew up the plans and my kids (who were two and four years old at the time) hung out with me as I built it. My son, now sixteen, remembers that day and loves looking at pictures of the playset we built together. This summer, my daughter lit up at the suggestion of creating a customized Slip ’n Slide in our backyard. We are looking forward to building one together this summer.
Not all dads feel confident physically building things, but every dad can develop verbal building skills. Our families are fuelled by our encouraging words and destroyed by critical and negative ones. Words that build our kids up are said through a lens of love, even if they are words of correction and redirection.
You can say, text or write a message of inspiration to your kids. For instance, you might use a chalk marker to write some uplifting words on their mirror – which can be a place where many devastating lies crop up. Or create a contributor journal for everyone in your family where you can jot notes or Bible verses. Most kids love it when their dad stops to look into their eyes and say genuine words of love and encouragement. This superpower can fuel their hearts.
Kids long to be heard. When a dad truly listens, a child suddenly feels important and loved. Listening not only gives you connection, but also insight into what may be going on inside your child. If you combine this skill with the skill of observation, your kids may even think you can read minds!
Many kids (even teens) really do want to talk. Listening shows that you care about the person who is talking. Your son or daughter will feel safe sharing their emotions with you because they know they will be heard. They long for their dads to know them, and this skill will demonstrate that you are paying attention.
The three superpowers above will help unlock this one. Whether you know it or not, you have a lot to offer in this area. Perhaps you can teach life skills. Or you might be able to teach sports, cooking, gardening or building. Every dad can (and should) teach kids something about relationships and sex so that they learn strong values as they grow. The key to teaching anything is that it works best when you have a strong relationship with your kids.
Teaching also requires other superpowers such as love, respect, adaptability, boundaries, gratitude, forgiveness and intentionality. These superpowers foster humility, patience, compassion, empathy and flexibility. You have a lot to teach your kids, but also have a lot to learn in order to create the bridges necessary to getting the message across.
Every dad brings a lot of unique strengths they can share with their kids. You don’t have to be the strongest, tallest or most hip dad out there in order to contribute to their growth. Save yourself trouble and don’t compare yourself to other dads. God purposefully put you in your kids’ lives. God could have chosen another man to be your kids’ dad. He knew that you were the perfect dad for them and that you had a lot of strength to share with your kids.
One asset that will take your child far in life is learning to express emotion in healthy ways. Another huge strength is optimism. Learn it. Develop it. When you bring “Vitamin O” to your family you bring mental and emotional power.
Strengths can be physical too. Dads wrestling and rough housing with their children, going on bike rides, playing sports or working out with their kids – these activities all provide excellent lessons and benefits to kids. What activities can you think of to share with your kids?
Dad, your superpowers are waiting to be unleashed. Develop these and you will help your family thrive. Your family will love it, and you will too!
Daniel Huerta is a licensed counsellor and the director of parenting and youth at Focus on the Family in the U.S.
© 2020 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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