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Close up of dad smiling at his daughter who just gave him a card

Celebrate Your Emotions

Over the past couple of months, I’ve experienced two days that were fully dedicated to me – Father’s Day in June, followed by my birthday in July.

As I’ve grown older and more experienced, both days have lost the anticipation and excitement they used to have. To add to this, my family has spent the past couple of months transitioning into a new home, so the level of stress in the household has been high. I spent Father’s Day working on repairs at the new house. I spent most of my birthday in the office at work. Though these days were not exactly thrilling for me, my kids still saw it as an opportunity to celebrate, and they were filled with excitement.

For Father’s Day, Keira could hardly wait to give me the gift she had made for me a week earlier at the Dads in Action event, Dad Appreciation Day. She’d crafted a button and made me a card detailing everything she loved about me. At one point during the day, she even exclaimed, “This is the best Father’s Day ever!”

For my birthday, after a long workday, we were to celebrate with songs, gifts, and a cake. As I drove home from the office that day, I worked on pumping myself up so that I’d be ready for an evening of festivities. I’ll admit that it took a lot to muster up energy and excitement for each celebratory event.

The more that I thought about it, I recognized how important my display of excitement or enjoyment is to the kids. It’s usually not in my personality to jump up and down for joy, and I’ve been told quite often that my demeanor is pretty consistent, regardless of my mood.

I also think that men are often taught not to outwardly display most emotions, especially fear or sadness, but we may also learn to diminish or even hide some of the more positive feelings as well. Sure, we may say that we’re happy or excited, but our body language can remain aloof. Sports or physical conquests may be one of the few places where men are allowed to display a full range of emotion. Outside of that, there are many instances where a level of glee can result in criticism or judgment from other men, so we learn to just be “cool” no matter how exhilarating the news or event.

Though we may be used to hiding most of our feelings from the rest of the world, it is important as fathers to display our full emotional range in the home. We can show our children that it’s okay for boys and men to feel and express positive emotions, too – outside of sporting events. If you can’t match the enthusiasm of your children for a birthday or any special event, just be mindful of your physical expression. Even if it means that you’re just going through the motions, it still sends an important message to your child about how you feel. Your ability to join them in their celebration will mean the world to them.

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About Z. Andrew Jatau, LPC

About Z. Andrew  Jatau, LPC

Z. Andrew is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the founder of Mylemarks, an online company that develops social-emotional resources to use with kids and teens. Through that company, he creates content such as digital downloads, workbooks, and children’s books. He’s an adjunct professor in the Human Services department at Old Dominion University, and serves as the Fatherhood Consultant for CHKD’s Dads in Action program. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, and listening to music.