The theme for yesterday for me was “small”. Josh Johnson wrote an outstanding debut article and the word “small” played a significant role. Later in the day I saw an item on Facebook written by my friend Dr. Bill Dyment on “Serving Small”. And then while finding something to watch with the grandkids before bedtime, I hear “It’s a Small World” playing on the Disney Channel.
So, I figure there is a message in there somewhere.
If there is a message in there for us on Fatherhood Friday, I think it may be this. Our children are not looking for a huge display of affection. This is especially true as they approach adolescence and the teen years. Instead, what they are looking for from us are the little gestures that say, “I love you”.
Many times we get caught in the trap of thinking that, since I can’t do ALL that I would like to do for my children, then I will not do anything for fear of falling short or missing the mark of parental perfection. This is a simple trap to fall into and a deep trap from which to try to escape.
Busy lives and hectic schedules will cause us to fall into the trap. But, guilt will keep us firmly in the iron grip of the trap. We feel guilty that we had to work late so we don’t know what to say to our children if we miss dinner together with the family. And those feelings of guilt cause us to withdraw and not reach out when we do get home. Exhaustion from a long day and the guilt of having missed spending time with the children are a bad combination that can feed upon itself and quickly spiral out of control.
What exactly then is the point on Fatherhood Friday?
Your children need to feel your love and attention in the myriad small things that you do for them. The big gift that you bought for them at Christmas may not have lasted until New Year’s Day. Spending a few minutes before bed time playing a video game with them, sitting on the floor and having snack together, even running your hands through their hair as they sit with you and watch something on TV as they wind down at the end of the day are each small things. Combining those small things together over a child’s lifetime will cement in their minds that you love them, you value them, you miss them when you are away, and you want to be with them when you are at home.
Do you remember what you got for Christmas the year you were seven years old?
Do you remember playing catch (or something else like that) with your dad in the back yard when you were a kid?
What do you want your children to remember about you? Big things? Or small things?