I have six kids, ages ranging at the moment from 7 to 20. And while I’m not perfect as a father, I have learned a thing or two from my 20 years of service.
I’ve learned to pay attention, to give them space, to accept them for who they are, to be a guide and not a director, to help them through teachable moments, to love reading a book with them, to walk and talk when we have problems, to give hugs when they are in pain and hugs when they experience a triumph, to set limits and then remove the limits when they’re excited about something.
It’s a lot to learn, a lot to tackle at once.
And so I’ve boiled all of this down to one daily practice.
One thing to help you be a great dad.
Appreciate your child’s love for you.
Do this every day, whenever you see your child, and even when they’re not around. This love for you is a gift, and it manifests itself in so many ways: in the way they want your attention, your affection, your approval, your pride in what they do. In wanting to spend time with you. In watching you to see how to live life. In learning from you whenever you talk to them.
This daily practice, of appreciating their love for you, will make your life better. It will help you be the role model they need, because someone who appreciates the love of others is a beacon of gratitude and humility and mindfulness.
And when you appreciate their love for you, you realize that you have a boundless source of happiness in every moment. And you are a boundless source of happiness for them.
No matter what happens, from tantrums to heartbreaks to injuries to rejections, this love is there for you.
I am incredibly grateful for the love of my kids (some of whom aren’t even kids anymore).
They look up to me, and I in turn learn from them. They are funny, and excited, and curious, and affectionate, and fun. I’m lucky to have them in my life, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without them.