Dr. Kevin Leman is a psychologist and award-winning author of more than 30 books, including New York Times bestseller, “Have a New Kid by Friday.” Leman has appeared on TV programs such as “Good Morning America,” “Today” and “The View.” He and his wife, Sande, live in Arizona and have five children.
Talk about the three different parenting styles.
Leman lists three basic kinds of parents:
Authoritarian: You listen up and do what I tell you to do. “A lot of us men are fixers,” Leman said. “We tend to like to tell people what to do.”
Permissive: Anything goes with no discipline. “You’re afraid to give them Vitamin N, which is, ‘No,’” Leman added. “Kids need to learn they’re not at the center. If your kid is the center, where is room for God in a kid’s life?”
Authoritative: The balanced parent who realizes each child is different and knows how to bring out the best in them through encouragement and correction.
Can you talk about the difference in how dads and moms interact with children?
Leman said dads interact with their daughters differently.
“Women are relational by their nature,” Leman said. “They hug anything that moves, use three and a half times more words than men in a day. A woman’s needs are affection, communication and commitment to the family. Most men are not good at those things. My point is when a woman sees that her husband is affectionate, kind and understanding to their daughter, that’s significant because it’s contrary to our nature.”
When Leman coached girls basketball, he saw the significance of being gentle.
“I coached eighth grade girls basketball once, and I say once because one year was enough,” Leman added. “During a game timeout, a girl comes up to me and says, ‘No. 22 scratched me.’ I’m a former athlete. So I say, ‘What am I, your mother?’ She bolted to the locker room in tears. I learned a valuable lesson. With women, you can’t treat them like boys, as in, ‘Suck it up, let’s go.’”
Even when it comes to conversations about sex, dads shouldn’t pass the baton to moms.
“When a daughter begins to grow up before a man’s eyes, he says to his wife, ‘Hey honey, maybe you ought to have a talk with her,’” he said. “Who better to tell a young woman what men are like than dad?”
Why does a daughter need her dad?
An estimated 24.7 million children in the U.S. live without their biological father, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative.
Fatherlessness can lead to emotional and behavioral problems, school struggles, sexual exploration and an increase in teen pregnancy.
“A young woman learns who God is through her father,” Leman said. “Men need to realize you represent God to her. You’re going to represent, in all probability, the kind of guy she’s going to bring home to marry someday. Most of us as men have a hands-off policy when it comes to our daughters. Every piece of research says when there’s a positive man in a young lady’s life, she’s going to be on a positive trajectory. If there’s not, it’s going to be tough.”
A dad’s actions paint a picture a daughter often translates to believing are the attributes of Father God.
“If you grow up with a critical-eyed father, what is your perception of Almighty God?” Leman added. “Does He then not have the biggest slingshot in the world, looking for imperfect people to zap at His pleasure? The words that dads use are very important.”
What are a couple ways dads can “win” with their daughters?
Listen: “Stop asking your kids questions,” he said. “Kids hate questions. If you want a daughter to talk, ask, ‘What’s your opinion about this?’ Most kids growing up get an idea of what they want to be, and you see their individual bents. It’s really easy to say, ‘You ought to go into this or that,’ but it’s much better to draw it out of them. You’re getting to a point where you’re saying, ‘I value what you think, and I want to hear what you have to say.’ The kids will always come back if they respect the parent and run decisions by them.”
Develop a relationship: “What you have to understand is this is all about developing a relationship because before long they’ll be grown up, and the question is, ‘Are they going to want to hang out with you?’” Leman added.