Are You Making Your Child Feel Valued? Or Unwanted?

Father and son.

There’s a little girl in Thing 3’s kindergarten class who we’ll call Susan. She’s a sweet kid who is usually very happy. In the mornings when I walk Things 2 and 3 to their class lines – rather, I say bye to Thing 2 at the edge of the school playground because he’s too cool for dad to walk him to his line – I wait with Thing 3 at her line until her teacher takes the kids in to class. On average, I’ll stand there for up to 20 minutes and to pass the time, I goof around with Thing 3 and her friends. We’ll make up games to play and in general, I try to occupy them so they don’t start running around and getting in trouble.

School started around the middle of August and I’ve noticed since then that Susan is always walked to the class line by her dad who never smiles, never interacts with her, and stands way off to the side away from his daughter, playing games on his phone. She sees me playing with kids and usually joins in the fun. Almost every morning, she’ll run over to her dad saying, “Daddy! Come play with us!” and he, quite literally some mornings, will just brush her aside. It’s so heartbreaking to see how rejected and sad she gets.

On mornings when she looks especially sad, I’ll make it a point to have Thing 3 call her over to play hopscotch or whatever game the kids are playing at the time. She lights up and has a great time, but I also get the feeling that she’s a bit socially awkward and because of that, some of the other kids don’t like playing with her. I’ve never seen her mother but based on how the father is, it makes sense that she doesn’t have very good social skills. I also try to be a little more vocal when I interact with the kids – especially Thing 3 – because I keep hoping he’ll see how easy it is to play with your kid and, really, how little effort it takes to make them smile.

I’ve watched all of this take place five mornings a week, almost every week since the middle of August. This morning as we were getting out of our car at school, Susan’s dad pulled up and parked right in front of our car. As we walked the few blocks to the school, Thing 3 grabbed hold of my hand like she usually does and we goofed around and talked all the way to school. I stopped at the edge of the school’s playground, gave Thing 2 a hug, a kiss, and said I loved him and hoped he had an awesome day like I do every morning, and as Thing 3 and I started walking to her line, Susan and her dad passed us.

They were holding each other’s hand.

He was actually speaking to his daughter in a positive tone instead of the usual sharp, angry tone he normally employs.

They were smiling!

While we stood in line, his phone was in his pocket and he spent almost the entire time playing with his daughter. They were laughing and smiling and being silly. In the 100-plus mornings I’ve seen that guy, I’ve never seen him smile until this morning. And I’ve never seen Susan so happy just to be noticed by her own dad! I’d like to think it was like the scene in How The Grinch Stole Christmas where his heart grew two sizes.

My point with writing about all of this is to hopefully demonstrate how all of us parents need to pay close attention to how our actions make our children feel Never underestimate the impact of being a healthy, happy, and active part of your child’s life. Because you never know who may be watching and taking notes.

Photo Credit: Olichel

Daniel De Guia

I'm a dad, Certified Personal Trainer, Youth Fitness Specialist, 3-time end of the world survivor, geek, writer, and gamer from Santa Rosa, California. The posts on this blog will chronicle my personal fitness journey, which I hope will motivate other fathers to take charge of their own health and fitness.

1 Response

  1. Great story! Hope he continues with that behavior. At some point, I think kids like that just quit caring or trying to get their parents to notice them, and that saddens me.

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