Thanks, Dad, for everything you’ve taught us.
Welcome to the 24th episode of Giving Back Insights, my Thursday solo show where I talk about how our guests and their charities serve others, to explore actions each of can take to make a difference in people’s lives and to share. Today I’m talking about Seeking Fatherly Advice! Listen to today’s episode and don’t forget to give your feedback and valuable comment. Enjoy!
This morning in the newspaper I saw a call for reader submissions under the headline “Seeking Fatherly Advice” In honor of Father’s Day, the paper is asking fathers to share their words of wisdom about raising kids at any age. Here’s the question: “Dads, what do you wish you’d known the first time you stared into your newborn’s eyes?”
This was a thought-provoking question for me. A little emotional, too. My oldest is going to college in the fall, and my youngest is entering high school. My middle child and I had a rough go for a bit and it feels like we’re hitting our stride now, knock on wood. They are kind, smart, generous and funny, and we’ve been remarkably fortunate with a relatively trouble-free childhood for all three.
I’m an optimistic guy and tend to concentrate on both the positive and progress. I’ve put a lot of energy on my personal growth over the past few years with the biggest focus being a better father. And I continue to make plenty of mistakes.
But I am a better father, that I know. I feel it when my kids, including my sons, give me a kiss in the morning. I feel it when one of them talks about whatever is on their mind or gives me a playful nudge. I feel it when my wife looks at me with a smile when I and the kids are laughing about something she thinks is silly, and I feel it when we have a hard conversation that ends with a hug and walking together, not apart.
So this is what I wish I’d known the first time I stared into my newborn’s eyes:
Always err on the side of love and kindness.
Life will feel hard sometimes. Many things will happen in life that is out of my control, and they can be real sources of stress. What I CAN control is how I respond to these situations, my behavior, and communication. Remember that no matter what happens, my kids love me.
If everything I say and do reflects the love I felt the first time I looked into each of their eyes, I’ll be a much better father. Every time I’m with them, talk to them, or they think of me, I want them to know that my love is unconditional, without limit or reserve.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible for what they do or say. But I will be a much more effective father if they know I’m coming from a place of love. Whether it’s nagging, reprimanding, or simply having a conversation, they will listen with a more open heart and mind when they know my words are based on love.
So figure out how to show them with my words and actions that I love them. Do that ALL THE TIME. That will make a difference, I promise.
In other words, don’t be stingy with my love. Love them with all my heart, all the time. Love them like there’s no tomorrow.
p.s. remember to smile more when I’m talking to them. It’s hard for kids to know the difference between anger and concentration.
Love & Gratitude,