Being a master at his craft, Dennis' asked, "So John, is it true that you don't believe fathers should high-five their children?"
The phone lines lit up. The first caller, a dad, was noticeably agitated. "I high-five my kids!" he said. "What's wrong with that?"
I patiently repeated most of what I'd said before and added that presenting yourself as a leader to your child does not preclude the occasional game of catch in the back yard or any other recreational, relational activity.
The operative word, however, is occasional. The dad who does this sort of thing every day is clearly striving for relationship. These activities, therefore, are not special. They become obligatory.
The second caller, a dad, was noticeably agitated. "I high-five my kids! They like it and so do I."
I patiently explained that good parenting is not measured in terms of whether children like or do not like what parents do. Children often like what is not in their best interests and dislike what clearly is. And as for him enjoying high-fiving his kids, the raising of his kids isn't about him. It's about his kids' needs, not his. And just as he must sometimes do things he doesn't enjoy doing, he needs to be willing to postpone doing things he wants to do.
The third caller, a dad, was only a tad less agitated. "But don't kids need encouragement?"
Yes, they need encouragement. Providing encouragement, helping people reach higher, is characteristic of all good leaders. But effective leaders do so without crossing the line of relationship. In fact, encouragement is most effective coming from someone who is clearly your superior, not someone who is trying to be your buddy.
Parenting is a responsibility, not a playground. The job involves, among other things, causing one's children to look up, to develop respect, to act such that your child wants to grow up and emulate your example.
For hundreds of generations, dads accomplished this without high-fiving their children, or its equivalent. They can still do it...if they're man enough.
(Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.)