5 Secrets to Being Heard by Your Dad
All of us long to be heard and understood, don’t we? It’s something we value highly in conversations and relationships. There have been countless books written on the art of listening. We want to be heard and understood—that’s true of all of us.
However, in our relationship with our father, it holds even more importance, doesn’t it? We want him to hear us—our plans, our desires, our dreams—and to be proud of us. We want his affirmation, and we want his blessing.
This is more than simply a natural desire; God designed dads with the special role of affirming you and blessing you. That’s his job! Over and over again throughout the Old Testament of the Bible, we see fathers blessing their sons—speaking words about their future—and whatever the father said came true!
Why is that? It’s because God designed dads in such a way that their words have the power to breathe life into our hopes and dreams, to shape the way that we see ourselves. The trouble is, not all dads know that they have this God-given job to bless and affirm their children; to speak life into their future, the way they see themselves and how they approach the world.
This tragedy is seen throughout our communities today in the staggering statistics surrounding the issue of fatherlessness: children with absent fathers, emotionally-absent fathers—or worse, abusive fathers. Studies show that , . Children raised without fathers in the home are more likely to drop out of high school or become homeless.
In all the conferences I have done, meeting dads across the country from every generation, I have yet to meet a father who doesn’t love his children. More often than not, these physically or emotionally-absent fathers never received a blessing or affirmation from their own father, thus they continue passing down the same broken habits and words they got from their father. They use words that hurt, or make us feel like we have to perform. They don’t seem to hear us when we try to connect with them. They don’t seem to understand us.
The secret to connecting with your dad—no matter your history with him—is to approach the situation with love. When we approach relationships that we would like to see change in, we need to do it in love.
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10 ESV)
Here’s something I’ve learned in my own struggles connecting with my step-dad: you cannot change people. Only God can do that. But you can be the instrument of change that the Holy Spirit uses in their life. Remember, it was the kindness of God that led us to repentance.
When we approach our relationship with our dad in love, it frees us up to leave the outcome up to God. You can’t force your dad to hear you, but you can be sure that God does! You may just be the catalyst that brings your father the blessing he never received from his own dad.
Try using these 5 secrets to being heard by your dad:
Pray and ask God to fill you with His love
When we approach our dad in love, we honor him, whether he deserves it or not. Showing respect and honor and love to our dad may be just what they need to open their heart and their ears to you.
Do good, expecting nothing in return
I know you’re reading this because you want to have a conversation with your dad where he actually listens to what you’re saying. But sometimes we need to approach the relationship with a heart focused on doing good, and not to ‘be heard’ or ‘be understood’. Is it possible he feels like you never listen to him, either?
When we do good to others and give in this way—not expecting anything in return—it breaks the power that makes our life about ourselves. One of the best gifts you can give both yourself and your dad is to love and give to him in the same way the Father in Heaven has given to you. That is how God changed the world.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Don’t react, predict!
There is no way for you to be able to predict how your dad will react to you. But you can predict what you are going to do. Love has the power to disarm the cycle of bitterness that so many of our families and relationships live in.
The Bible says this:
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 ESV
Sometimes the best thing you can do—if your aim is to be heard by your dad—is to respond kindly and softly, even when his response is unkind or worse.
Let your words be full of grace
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
In our relationships with our dads, we sometimes fall into bad patterns, such as speaking in a tone of bitterness (like we’re still in the last argument we had with them!). We continually use a tone that sounds like we’re trying to start an argument, or we never finished the argument from the last time we saw them. I think we do this because we want him to know that we’re still hurt. But that will get you nowhere if you’re trying to be heard by your dad.
Try changing your tone to one of grace or kindness. Sometimes that can make all the difference!
Be open and available
Many of us are so hurt by our dads—or so used to him ignoring us or not understanding us—that we never give him the opportunity to actually listen to us. We sit in the corner during family dinners and say nothing. We never give him the opportunity to be different or change.
If you want to see a change in your dad, you need to make yourself available and open to him changing. There are always growing pains when things change; try altering your body language, like uncrossing your arms when you see him.
Just remember that nothing is impossible, even if you think there’s no way your dad could ever mend his ways and finally hear you.
Here’s what Jesus said about impossible things:
“But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26 ESV)
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Published on June 20, 2018.