We all want the father of our children to be better at their jobs…that is, we want them to be better at Fatherhood jobs. We want them to be better listeners, more emotionally and physically available, and to take a more active role in the rearing of our children.
While there is no specific silver bullet or magic wand you can wave to make that happen overnight, it turns out there are a couple of words that men seem to love to hear that you can use to help "train" them into being better dads. Whether this is something inherent to the male psyche or something that society has trained into them is a debate and discussion for another time. What concerns us here today is that this works about 99% of the time on about 99% of men, regardless of levels of education, income, race, ethnicity, or just about any other social or political factor. But it’s something you can implement right away, test it out and decide when to use it for maximum benefit for him and for your children.
The two simple words you can use to subtly train and reinforce the behaviors you would like to see more of are: “Good Job."
I don’t really know what it is, but men love to hear this, especially from their wife or life partner. Don’t get me wrong, they like to hear it from peers and bosses, too, but it seems to carry a special weight when they hear it from us.
The trick is, you can’t be patronizing with it, and you have to time it right. I honestly think it’s because men are just as unsure about what they’re doing raising kids and being a parent as we are as moms, but having us give them that little bit of encouragement that they’re on the right track when it comes to parenting makes all the difference in the world. This is especially true if there are other times when we end up being critical of some ‘dad’ skill they haven’t yet mastered.
“Good Job” or “Nicely Done” or “I’m Impressed”, or anything along those lines to provide the reward of your recognition and approval. Did they provide timely fatherly advice? Good Job. Did they take the time after dinner to help with homework instead of slinking down to the man cave to watch ‘Sporting Event A’? I’m Impressed! Did they remember not only to bring the camera to the dance recital but also to clear the drive and charge the battery? Nicely Done.
And if they really go above and beyond, you might even sneak in a “You’re Awesome” once in a while. The man in your life will appreciate it more than you know. They are never 100% sure the thing they are doing is right, and that insecurity can build and eventually make them freeze – or rather stop them from participating because they become so unsure it’s easier just to bow out and not participate. But you can prevent that from happening by simply providing positive feedback when they do get it right…even if it isn’t 100% right every time, you can shape their behavior for the next opportunity.
Two words timed just right, pair with a hug or a peck on the cheek, you can bet dollars to donuts the next time they have a chance to try again, they’re much more likely to lean into the opportunity to be a dad. Is it manipulative? Maybe some people would say so, but the point isn’t to make it up, the point is simply to verbalize your approval and acknowledgment rather than letting it live in your head or relying on body language. Say it out loud, the verbal petting will carry much more weight than you can know.
Some say men are simple creatures. I don’t know if that is really true or not, but I can say in this case a couple of simple words at the right time and in the right tone will achieve positive results: a more confident father, more willing to act as a father, aligned to your hope and vision for him. When he’s earned it, let him have your approval, it will pay dividends for years to come.