As a father of two amazing young men, every day is like Father’s Day to me. I have been incredibly blessed by them.
And I was blessed with the world’s greatest Dad – at least the greatest one I could ever imagine. So my experiences as a Dad and with my own Dad have been amazingly positive in many ways.
The other day I was thinking about my Dad and my sons and wondering what commonalities there might be between the way I was raised and the way I raised my boys. I’m sure there are many things I could mention, but I landed on 5 things that I was given, and which I’ve also tried to give my own sons.
5 Gifts Every Father Should Give His Kids
Gift #1: Time
Dad’s need to spend time with their kids. And I mean that Dad’s need time with their kids. Kids need time with their Dad’s, too…but it works both ways. I think when we Dad’s spend time with our kids it does something to us that can’t happen otherwise.
- It gives us an appreciation of who they are.
- It helps us to understand how to communicate with them.
- It reveals to us what it is that makes them unique.
- It gives them a place in our heart that we will fiercely protect for the rest of our lives.
And, yes, not only do we, as Dad’s, need time with our kids, but they need time with us, too. It’s perhaps the greatest gift we can give them. And don’t give me the “quality time over quantity time” argument. Personally, I think that’s ridiculous. Things happen between a Dad and kids that can only come about through time together – they can’t be manufactured. Now, I understand that, in some cases, Dad’s simply don’t have a lot of time to give. But that’s the exception. Most of the time, not giving time to your kids truly is a choice – a matter of placing other things (work, recreation, etc) above them.
But here’s the thing: can you tell me any other “gift” that you could give them that better communicates (to them) how valuable they are to you?
- Are you giving your kids all the time that they need?
Gift #2: Space
Yes, space, and by that I mean we need to give them the space to be who they were created to be. When they are little, it might mean give them the space to be kids instead of expecting them to act like adults. As they get older, it might mean giving them the space to pursue the things they are interested in. Often times we have a wonderful plan for their lives…but it’s not something they are too interested in. We’ve got to give them space to be who they are and do what God made them to do.
Here’s an example: when I was 12 my family moved to Australia. At the time, I was a kid that was fanatical about sports. But, in Australia, they didn’t have the sports I loved. They had cricket…and rugby…and soccer! I had never played any of them – not once! But I decided I wanted to give soccer a try. So Dad got me a ball and I started practicing. And by practicing, I mean I kicked the ball against the wall of our house for hours on end every day after school. On the other side of that wall was my Dad’s home office. But, in spite of the noise, not once did my Dad ask me to stop. He gave me space to pursue what was important to me. As a result, I made the team, soon became a starter, and used soccer as a way to “fit in” during my high school years. To this day, I love “the beautiful game”, and now have a son who is better at it than I ever hoped to be!
- Are there ways you can give your kids the space they need to be who God made them to be?
Gift #3: Adventure
I truly believe that adventure is one of the most significant elements missing in the lives of kids today. They need adventure and, Dad’s, we can give it to them! Turn the TV off, get out of the house and start exploring the world around you with your kids. That may mean making grand discoveries in your back yard. Or it might mean finding adventurous places to take them around your community. It might mean – if you have the means – exposing them to new cultures and people by taking them out of your community, state or even country!
My Dad was in the Navy until I was 10 and then became a missionary church planter, so I had adventures around the world as a kid. But my Dad also took us for walks in our neighborhood where we had grand adventures. He took us to the beach, and on day trips to the woods. We had missionaries over for dinner who told us great stories. We had adventures all the time! And some of my fondest memories with my boys – and the ones they often bring up in conversation – were times we shared an adventure (like that time with the hummingbird and the rattlesnake!)
The point is that – whether it’s in the back yard or somewhere else – giving kids the gift of adventure can spark their imagination, create memories for a lifetime, and open the door for deeper relationship like few other gifts you can give them.
- What simple adventure can you have with your child today?
Gift #4: Faith
OK, I know we can’t “give” them faith – that’s something they’ve got to get on their own. But we can certainly wrap it up and offer it to them, can’t we?
How do we do that? First, we love God. Then, we obey His Word. Finally, we pass it on to our kids. Read A Primer For Parenting for a snapshot on how we can give our kids the gift of faith.
- How are your growing andoffering your faith to your children every day? What’s your plan?
Gift #5: Independence
I’m trying to learn how to do this right now with my oldest son, who completed EMT certification right after high school. He stayed in California to do that while the rest of the family moved to Colorado. Then he went to Africa for 5 months by himself. And, now, he’s in college in Chicago! It’s not easy! But we’ve got to prepare them for the day they break away, and we’ve got to let them go.
As much as soccer helped me fit in while I was in Australia, by the time high school was done I couldn’t wait to get back to the States. I was 17 and Mom & Dad let me go (I lived with good friends for a year through my first year of college). That’s not for everyone, but it illustrates that they understood that, when the time was right, they needed to let me go. Of course, they didn’t just say when I was 17, “OK, you’re free to go!” No, they worked very hard in the years before to prepare me for whenever that time would come. That included:
- helping me establish my faith
- teaching me to communicate well
- showing me how to solve problems and find solutions
- connecting me to the right people
- letting me know they were always there should I need them
- What are you doing to prepare your kids to live life independently of you?
These are just a few gifts my Dad gave me and I hope I’ve successfully given my sons, but there are many others we could mention.
What other gifts do we Dad’s need to give their kids?
(please answer in comments below)