*Post by guest blogger Rusty Rea*
Contrary to what you might be thinking, this is not an ad campaign for the American Dairy Association. This isn’t about the consumable cheese. Honestly, I don’t have a real definition for it, but it’s the importance of the little things in life that you do for your kids when you are intentionally paying attention.
To better explain my usage of the word here is a list of what I would deem “cheese”:
- High fives
- Bumping knuckles
- Secret notes
- Surprise treats
- You initiating a play time or game idea
Do you see where I’m going?
My posts often fluctuate between authority/discipline topics to your kid’s perspective and the fact that your kids value you’ – I do that because that was a lesson I had to learn as a parent.
Being a normal first time dad I struggled with the idea that ‘if my child obeyed, then I’m doing something right; and conversely, if my child disobeyed then I must be doing something wrong.’ In an effort to be ‘Super Dad’ I would parent from more of an authoritarian position, and compliance meant parental success. Me, being the occasional Big Red Hairy Monster, would be bigger and louder than necessary to remedy any discipline issues. If I could make it resonate enough within my kids then I could cauterize that issue and prevent any future disobedience. In my testosterone laden mind it made sense. Kelsi would lovingly whisper to me, “Remember how young our kids are…”
It wasn’t until several years later, after our second child was born, that the girls confided in Kelsi that they were scared of me when I raised my voice. That broke my heart. Kelsi and I had a long talk and she explained how girls look at their dads, and how there is always a deep curiosity within daughters regarding their fathers. And she told me how scary looking I am (thanks Kelsi! How romantic!… Well, in her defense, at this point I had started growing my hair out and getting my mountain-man beard going on – these wavy locks aren’t going to be around too much longer and I had to embrace them while I still got ‘em)
So, the next day I had a heart-to-heart with the girls. I was sitting down on the couch and had them sit on my lap. I asked them things, like I always do, ‘Who loves you forever? Who thinks you guys rock? Who thinks you guys are the silliest goofballs ever?’ All of which they answered, ‘You Papa!’… I then told them that Kelsi had told me that they were sometimes scared of me, but instead of trying to guilt or shame them for feeling that way I ran with their fears. I told them how I’m supposed to be scary – but not to them. How Papas are scary to scare away the bad people. How every time they see me and see Big Red Hairy Monster, they should think, ‘Whew! Glad he’s so scary to keep the bad guys away, and glad he loves me like crazy!’
I didn’t want to insult their intelligence, and being scared of someone who is 2-4 times as tall and 5 times their weight seemed reasonable to me. I’d be scared too. Instead I wanted to explain our relational dynamics, and that as their Papa I am their defender and protector. I’m big and scary for their benefit.
Since our talk I have done much reflection on parenting. I changed my definition of successful parenting, which I have explained in previous posts as equipping your child to self govern with appropriate boundaries. Instead of cauterizing for compliance, I train and relate. I explain how I had to learn too, and how I am still learning. Remember, as I have said, and will continue to say, imperfect parents can perfectly parent imperfect children – you just need to keep a realistic definition of perfect parenting.
So, what does that whole story have to do with cheese, and the power of cheese? I set up my point with the negative for a reason, honestly it’s something we can all relate to. The scars and hurts are often easier to remember because we can see the impact as something we don’t want. The hugs, smiles, high fives, and happy things have shaped us so much that we forget that those actually had a positive impact. We like them, we enjoy them, we embrace them, we own them, we want them to be who we are, we let them shape us, and we forget how much we were impacted by them.
When Kelsi explained to me how daughters carry this life-long deep curiosity towards their dads, it really did something to me. It showed me the good power behind all of the cheesy things I do, and how much that means to my kids.
So. Do you know the power of cheese?
This post was linked to The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, Welcome Home Link Up at Raising Arrows, Better Mom Mondays at The Better Mom, Titus 2 Tuesdays at Cornerstone Confessions, WLWW at Women Living Well