I always tell my kids it does not matter what people think about you. That isn’t quite true, is it? We all have people in our lives whose opinions matter. For me, that is my wife and children. They are the only people in my life who’s opinion I hold in the highest regard. I want to be a good employee, friend, and son, but that is not how I define a successful life; that is not the legacy I want to leave. Fatherhood, more than any other role, is how I wish to be defined.
When my kids accomplish something because I taught them how to do it, I too, am successful.
It does not matter if it is small, like how to brush their teeth or big, like selfless giving. Fathers play a vital role in raising children and shaping who they become. Some dads are active in raising their children; others are not. Those dads that are engaged in their kid’s life are the ones who produce a lasting legacy.
Success, as a father, is tied to your children’s thoughts, feelings, accomplishments, and memories. It is how they speak about you to others (‘‘My dad is better than your dad’) and how they remember you (‘I am so thankful to have a dad like you’).
It is not too early or too late to start defining a fatherhood legacy. From the minute my kids were born I began laying the foundation for what type of father I wanted to be. Each day, each moment is another piece. Some days are two steps forward and one step back, other days I feel like I am playing Monopoly and get sent directly to jail without collecting my $200.
The priorities I set, the attitude I take all have an effect on defining me- the father.
Here is how I hope my children remember and speak about me when I am not around.
A Great Christian: That I place God first in my life and live by His commands. They see me give to others, without asking for rewards. Show my faith in Him through the difficult times and praise Him all the time.
Time for Them: I am not too busy to be involved in my kid’s life, whether it is telling me what happened at school or spending one-on-one time with them. Even when I am busy, I arrange some time with them later, so they have my full attention.
There for Them: My father never missed a concert I performed in, from my first concert through adulthood. It was great to know that he was always there cheering for me. Though it wasn’t until years later I appreciated it. Knowing how much it means to me to have a dad there, I want to reciprocate that feeling and give to my kids.
Do Things Together: Whether as a family or individually, I set aside time and we go someplace. It can be vacations, day trips or even free outings are fun. Once a month we go to the library and pick out books or pack a lunch and go to a playground. While we are there I hope they are creating great memories of the fun, crazy and unexpected moments.
Encouraging Them: Through words or actions, my kids need to know that they are a success in my eyes. I need to say it. If they accomplish a feat or just try something new or scary, I should be there with kind and uplifting words. A simple “I am proud of you” is all it takes.
Provide for Them: They have everything they need: shelter, food, clothes, love, and encouragement. Plus, on occasion, they get a few things they don’t need, but just want.
Fun: Dads are supposed to be fun, right? They are the ones that tell silly, but bad jokes, swing you around when you were little and wrestling with you.
I Love Them and They Know It: I need to tell them and show them my love each and every day, multiple times and multiple ways. We show and receive love with words and actions, and with gifts and time. If I show my love for them all of these ways, then they should know they are loved.
This is how I want my children to speak about me.
How do you want your children to define you? What is your fatherhood legacy?