The 5 Needs Kids Want Parents to Fill

#5 - Affirmation

The past four posts, we looked at the first 4 of the 5 needs kids want parents to fill: love, affection, and a happy home life; rules/boundaries; independence/being trusted; patience and understanding. Now we will look at the fifth need: affirmation.

A child should know that “I’m someone who counts” — “I’m a valued human being.” The more affirmation teens get at home, the less they will need to seek it elsewhere.

And dads, we have a critical affirming role to play, particularly with teenage daughters as attested to in this excerpt from a teen girl’s letter. “Have you ever heard of a father who won’t talk to his daughter? My father doesn’t seem to know I’m alive. In my whole life, he has never said he loves me or given me a goodnight kiss unless I asked him to. I think the reason he ignores me is because I’m so boring.”

Here we see our father power, exercised in a harmful way. The dad didn’t pay attention to her, and the daughter concluded that she was dull, unintelligent and generally boring.

So dad, show enthusiastic, genuine interest in your child’s’ activities. Approve and take pride in their accomplishments.

It’s really a pretty straightforward formula: you show interest in them, and they will begin to show interest in you.

Dad, you now know what five basic needs your child wants you to fill.

As Nike reminds us: Just do it!


The 5 Needs Kids Want Parents to Fill

#4 - Patience and Understanding

The past three posts, we looked at the first 3 of the 5 needs kids want parents to fill: love, affection, and a happy home life, rules/boundaries, and independence/being trusted. This time, we will look at item #4 on their needs list: patience and understanding.

In a survey of teens, the most common advice offered to adults was “try to understand”. A 16 year old pleaded, “Try to understand everything a teenager has to go through and remember that you were teenagers once, and you had to go through many of the same problems.”

This “remembering” is sound advice. Let your children know that you’ve been there too—that you had your heart broken by a girl or that you felt miserable when you failed a big test.

At a minimum, they’ll know that they are not the only ones to have ever suffered from the problems—a common feeling in teens. They’ll realize, hey, my dad came out of it all right. And maybe if you’re lucky, they’ll sense your empathy and be heartened by your love and concern.

To have patience is to exercise emotional self-control. Emotional overreaction can hurt your relationship with teens in several ways: it leads them to respect you less; it causes them to keep their distance; and it tends to push them into the influence of others.

To have patience is to wait them out in conversation. Don’t jump in too quickly. They may start talking about trivial matters, and your tendency is to cut them off. But if you wait—have patience—what’s really on their hearts and minds will often emerge. It may take 5, 10, or 20 minutes, but the wait is well worth it.

Perhaps the hardest times are when your teen doesn’t want to talk. Fine, respect his or her privacy—another major need of teens.

But in these silent times, teens still desperately need and want understanding. In such circumstances, perhaps you can do something that will show them you understand and you care. Give them a surprise, or grant a previously denied request.

Your child’s response to this act of understanding and love just may surprise you.

Post a comment on your experience as a dad trying to show patience and understanding.