Although my wife and I come from two different backgrounds, were born on opposite sides of the world, were raised by two completely different parenting styles, we still manage to do our best in raising our son. Obviously there is no perfect way to do so, there is no magic formula, book, or checklist to complete to ensure it’s done correctly. However, the one constant we can grant in a child’s life is love. Love can be shown in many different ways, as we know our families show love in different ways, from food, to gifts, to helping out, but perhaps the most impactful way of showing love in a child’s life is simply attention, interaction, and affection.
We live in an era of fast paced everything, from I pad’s, I phones, e-mail, text, groupon, the chive, Facebook…. I could go on forever. There is plenty to keep us distracted from our family, especially children as they are the most moldable and often suffer the most from the lack of interaction. I am far from perfect and often get caught up in the cyber world. However, I look into my child’s eyes and see the innocence of a little boy that will only last for a few more years, as innocence seems to disappear earlier and earlier as society constantly forces our children to grow up too fast. Once I see that look in my son’s eyes, the look of joy, I see a little boy who has such a vivid imagination; the world is an unknown place waiting to be explored! I’m not talking about travel, but taking an adventure through a book, or perhaps I make up a story to make him laugh, state some awe inspiring facts about the tallest mountain in the world, or at the end of my 18 hour day, take him down in the basement to participate in a ball fight with him, in which he repeatedly hits me in the head for at least an hour.
Am I super dad? Hopefully to my son I am just as my dad is and was for me. My dad suffered from a sleep disorder that was undiagnosed for years, he would stay up 24,48,72 hours in a row never knowing when he was going to bed. He was self-employed and worked his butt off to pay for my clothes, college, and trips to Disneyland. Along with the financial support the things I remember the most were him coming to my school over recess to play kickball, coaching my little league baseball and basketball league, playing “big guy vs little guy” in the basement in an indoor basketball challenge. Even through my high school years, he would have just fallen asleep for two hours and then wake up to be at my cross country race even though he was going to suffer from a heart attack. On a lighter note, I dedicated my two JV cross country championships to him. He would also wake up Christmas morning if he slept, and he would have the camera out to record our family Christmases. Perhaps the thing I remember the most was him staying up 72 hours on a trip delay going to California, and instead of getting to the hotel and taking a nap, he took me to Disneyland right away. I looked over next to me and he had fallen asleep on the ride, it was at that moment I wanted to cry thinking of all the selfless sacrifices this man has made for me as a father, friend, and hell of a role model.
When my son was born, I knew I may never be able to financially provide for my son like my father had, but I could damn sure be there for my son to raise him, teach him, and interact and play with him. Often times I question if I am doing enough, or when I get mad at him for doing something wrong, if I really should have got mad or tried a different method of communication. I don’t have a manual to refer to, only the parenting tips my loving parents have shown me. I want him to tell me all about Godzilla, his school day, his favorite game he plays at grandma. We read books, go to the zoo, say prayers, and sometimes I just don’t know if I’m doing it right or enough.
There is no doubt life is challenging and the trials and tribulations we face unexpectedly, or the ones we bring on ourselves, we will undoubtedly have to face. In that time of difficulty, are we as parents able to put aside our needs, thoughts, and feelings, to ensure our children get that extra attention? We only get one shot at this parenting thing, and I’m certainly not saying we neglect our medical needs or disabilities, but when we are tired, sad, or upset, we still have a responsibility to a child we brought in this life. Perhaps we can put our feelings a side at least until they go to bed, or even explain to them why we had a bad day. I only hope that I will have raised a wonderful young man who will look back and say, “My Daddy was a great father, he taught me, played with me, and was always there.” While there is no guarantee in life, there is a guarantee that I will give him all I have to offer while I am here on this earth. I deeply love my wife, son, and my parents and sometimes love comes with self-sacrifice, I just hope this article helps us reflect on the time and attention we give our children, they are our future and need our attention and guidance now, more than ever. To those of you conflicted, those of you doing a good job, those of you who perhaps haven’t been, it’s never too late to try to change. At the end of the day, only God can judge us, but the man or woman in the mirror can tell us an awful lot. Thank you, and may you be blessed.