I remember the moment my wife gave birth to our first child. It was a moment of great celebration and dreams fulfilled. The beautiful blessing of a child ignites a feeling inside of you that is life-changing. The change inside manifests itself into a personal declaration, that we will give more to our child than we had in our early life. This is a beautiful moment when most men begin to move and act from an unselfish place. We start working extremely hard for our new child that means so much. We want our child to be happy and smile so, we shower them with gifts and we buy them things. Hey Dads, this behavior of buying is OK, but there are bigger gifts that you can give your child and the only cost is your time and your presence.
The first gift that you can give your child is the gift of experience. Our children don't learn from what you tell them, they learn best from what they see! Exposure to the vast wonders of the world will broaden the spectrum of their own self image. So Dads take your child to the park, to the beach to the museum to sporting events. Take them to dinner, take them to the bookstore, take them to any place that interests them and you. Take them places that will broaden their view of the world in which they live. As you expose them to these new things, ask them questions about their likes and dislikes. Your interest in their opinions demonstrates that their opinions are valued. They matter. Then encourage them to seek additional information in the areas that they find interesting.
Don't stop there, read to them. Take them to the library. There you can watch as their imagination soars. Draw with them, write with them, help them put their great ideas on paper. Travel with them, let them experience life from other perspectives. As they get older, they not only grow in confidence, but they grow in the appreciation of their own gifts in life.
Secondly, give them the gift of support. When you support your child you are telling them that you will be there for them, encouraging them to do their best and to be their best. You are celebrating their effort, their best effort, in everything they do. You are encouraging and supporting them to make their decision based on their happiness and what they believe to be right. Our children need to know that their life is their own and they can never get it wrong if they continue to pursue life at their very best. Success is defined individually and our job is to support them as they define their own success. Support is simply celebrating every step of their journey and encouraging them to never give up on the pursuit of their vision. Simply, we want them to know that they are born great and their greatness is fulfilled through their own choices.
Third and finally, we want to give our children the gift of service. They should know that there is a divine power that lives inside of them and inside of all humanity. That power is love and it must be shared with the world. When we live in love, our child knows he/she is loved, and we help the child to develop the power of the love that they carry inside. When love is acknowledged and expressed, there is a feeling of appreciation. Giving and showing appreciation humbles one to the power you are given and this power can be used to bring light into darkness. We are not telling them they have to save the world, but we are teaching them to be the change that they want to see in the world. This can be represented by a simple gesture of saying “hello,” in a greeting or, “have a nice day,” in departure. You are helping them understand that they are God's child. Life isn't so much about what you're given, it's about what you give. This connected awareness empowers them individually, their families, their culture, their community and the world.
Dads, let's celebrate and honor our place as fathers by giving our children these three important gifts. The toys will break and the designer clothes will get old and fade, but the gift of experience, support and service will last a lifetime.