“My favorite Summer.” This is a phrase I say to my daughter on a daily basis. Her response without prodding from me is, “My favorite daddy.” The first time I heard her say those words I nearly lost it. This seems silly, but these words are valuable. These words of affection and affirmation are meant to illustrate the love this dad has for his daughter and vice versa. It also doesn’t hurt my other kids’ feelings, as I often tell Gavin that he is my favorite Gavin, and Evelyn that she is my favorite Evelyn.
Why is this important? It is important because these simple phrases and conversations are intentional acts, and being intentional and not mundane with our relationships is key to moving forward and growing deeper in our love for another.
It is easy to gloss over our parental responsibilities and start simply going through the motions. We get them up and ready in the morning, get them to school or the babysitter, pick them up, feed them, bathe them, and then get them to bed. This is a normal day in the life of a parent. Sure these days include discipline, TV time, and conversation, but ultimately, most days are patterned in a similar fashion.
I am not arguing against a pattern or a routine. We would lose our minds without this, but I am arguing for more intentionality. We must be present and engaged with our children. How are their days going? What moves them to laughter or hurt? What interests them and holds their attention or captivates their mind? What goals do they have in front of them or have set for themselves?
These are simple questions that can go a long way in allowing a parent to dive deep into their child’s life without opening up their diary (not sure if kids still have these or not). We should desire to know more about our kids and be more involved in their lives.
I say this as a failed and distracted dad myself. I would like to think I am engaged 24 hours a day, but oftentimes I am not. I have heard my kids, more than I would like to admit, tell me to put my phone down or look away from the TV. They have no issue in pointing out my missteps and lack of focus.
These failures, however, do not define my today or tomorrow. I recognize my lapse of focus or engagement and I seek to remedy that with redirection of my time and energy. This isn’t just a reality for me; this should be the reality of dads everywhere.
In light of this past Sunday, Father’s Day, I encourage dads everywhere to make time to focus on your kids. Enjoy the everyday moments that we sometimes neglect or take for granted. Be present and engaged in their life as you love, protect, and raise them.
This role we are blessed to play as dad is truly a gift. It is not lost on me that God chose me out of all the men to ever walk the earth to be Gavin’s, Summer’s, and Evelyn’s dad. That is a remarkable truth that should rescue our awe every day.
Don’t take this job lightly today. You have been put in this place and role for a purpose. Gain the respect from your kids because of your great love for them and show them daily that love.
I can promise you that you will never regret putting in the work for them. Hearing that phrase, “My favorite daddy,” keeps me going and holds me to a higher standard – a standard I fail to achieve daily, but a standard I long to meet out of a deep, deep love for my kids!
posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director of Hope Resource Center