I wonder what you thought when you read that title. Did something come to your mind or did a sarcastic comment pass from your lips regarding the fact that your parents did everything wrong. Truth be told, none of our parents did it perfectly. Some may have come close while others missed the mark by miles.
This is one of the subjects I cover in a class I teach for Belhaven University. The course is entitled Kingdom Life. And Things My Parents Did Right is the content of a short paper I require the students to write. Most of my students easily come up with a list of reasons for which they praise their parents. Some struggle to do so. Occasionally one of them has to dig deep into their memory banks to find positive recollections.
What about you?
Thoughts like these surface to the forefront of my mind on a regular basis. Both the positive and the negative aspects of my parents parenting serve as fuel for me in my important role as Daddy to our five children. My vocation (calling from God) of parent is a very high priority in my life. It easily trumps my vocation as worker, though I am called to work hard as well.
I write these comments at the conclusion of a great vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We spent five nights in a condo on the beach and had a great time. The last time we went Jodi was pregnant with Cadence. This trip Cadence experienced the sand and the surf for the first time. She loved it! We all enjoyed watching her play in the ocean! We also enjoyed viewing the morning sunrises over the Gulf and walking on the beach. In fact, we pretty much enjoyed everything except the long drive. I went out of my way to make it a fun week.
I did a lot of things my Dad never did.
My Dad did several things right. I could write about his work ethic and his ability to relate with all types of people. I could talk about his intelligence or his sense of humor. He could’ve done a lot worse (I believe he struggled more with my elder siblings). But he could’ve done a lot better. While he was present much of the time, he was not engaged. I could list several examples. Here’s one.
To the best of my memory, my Dad did not come to any of my little league baseball games. Correction: I know he came to one. Admittedly, I was nothing to watch. I was not an athlete. When the coach had to play me, I was stuck in right field. He probably grimaced each time I closed my eyes and wildly swung my bat at balls outside the strike zone. I am not using hyperbole when I state I was 0 for my career at the plate (for you non-sports fans, that means I was hitless). They couldn’t count on me to get on base or advance a runner unless I was hit by the ball. My hands and eyes were not coordinated! I was a failure every night.
Every night save one.
The final night of my baseball career.
Guess who came to my game?
My Dad’s presence was not lost on me. I knew he was watching as I stood in the batter’s box for the first time. You won’t believe what happened next! I hit a ground ball to third and outran the throw to first! Safe! Single! My second at bat was identical. So was my third. And my fourth. I couldn’t buy a hit for years prior, but the night my Dad showed up I had four infield singles! 4 for 4! Who cares about my being 0-396! My Dad saw me make contact with the ball four times and run faster than the ball could fly.
Engaged fathers can make a massive difference!
My children will NOT have a difficult time remembering the times I was engaged due to the level of my engagement. Do I wish my Dad would have engaged more? Absolutely. However, there isn’t a single thing I can do about that. What I can do, though, is remain committed to regular participation in their lives. And that’s exactly my plan. Our beach vacation was a blast. We hope to do it again. We are also hoping to visit our nation’s capital and Disney. I look forward to making those memories together. Yet between Gulf Shores and our next vacation destination is tomorrow.
And tomorrow matters.
Engaged parents can make a massive difference tomorrow.
And that’s exactly my plan.