Father’s Day for Dummies

Loooovvveee Father’s Day! Don’t you? Breakfast in bed. Cards from smiling ladies as we shuffle out to church. Come home to find a little lady bringing me my slippers. Watch something sporty – even if the only thing on is NASCAR. Fall asleep in my lazy boy recliner while someone tucks me in as another someone lifts my head and gently puts a pillow underneath. Wake up two hours later to discover four wrapped presents right there before my eyes. I tear up as I rip through the first one and discover a miter saw hidden below. I turn to the second one, which is a box of Romeo y Julieta Reserve Maduros. I flick a match and puff on its wonderful earthiness as billowing smoke envelopes everyone in the room. I shred the third one to discover a collection  of my most coveted books on my wish list. As I sigh in great pleasure a nice toasty cup of chicory coffee is placed in my hand (that’s the fourth present) as I begin to read. Not a peep I hear until “I love you” is gently whispered in my ear as the call to dinner. Beef tenderloin and cheesecake wrap up a delightful evening with the children tucking themselves into bed as they blow kisses to me from down the hall. Soooo relaxing.

Does this sound like your kind of Father’s Day? Well, then…WAKE UP! Men, here is your pep talk going into the weekend. This may come as a shocker to you but Father’s Day is not for you. Well, at least, it shouldn’t be for you. It is for your children. This Sunday is another chance for you to reevaluate the way you spend your time with your children. They need you. I’m not talking about “they need you at work bringing home money” or “they need to know you’re in the same building as them.” No, what I’m talking about is that they need to know that you care about them in a way they understand love and affection from their daddy as it is weaved into their identity. This means undistracted time doing things with them that they want to do.

Think about two possible scenarios:

Scenario #1: You have been selfish as a dad every Father’s Day as described in my opening paragraph. Twenty years from now you look back and will remember how many of them? How many gifts? How many dinners? My guess – none.

Scenario #2: You have spent real unadulterated quality time with your children. You look back in 20 years and you remember details of giggles, smiles, laughs, hugs and kisses that blur into a wholesome memory. Better yet, you realize that by changing your focus on Father’s Day you began a habit of working at communicating love to your children in a way they understood. Your relationship with them is decidedly better for it.

Now consider these two scenarios from another perspective:

Scenario #1: Your children look back after 20 years of Father’s Day with disdain. No fond memories. No real reason to celebrate having a daddy. A day when daddy took full advantage of what he did every day the rest of the year – tell them how unimportant they were by the way that he spent his free time. Specifically, they weren’t worth his time or energy. If he did spend time with them it was only doing things he wanted to do; never what they wanted to do.  They swear that when they have kids they will never make the same mistake.

Scenario #2: Your children look back with fond memories of detailed adventures and ice cream escipades where the world was conquered in a day by them and their daddy. They share stories of joy to the smallest details to their children on future Father’s Day as they relive in their own heart how their daddy loved them deeply. How thankful they are for those constant messages of affirmation.

How many children this weekend will be looking for their daddy’s love and he will be too self-absorbed to notice. Don’t be that guy.

So, come up with a plan. Figure out a way to spend the day with your children that communicates what a prize they are to you.  If you need an idea, here is what I do: I take each girl out separately during the day. They each get to pick something special that we do alone for at least an hour. This year one has asked to go to breakfast with me. We will be eating at IHOP before church. Another has requested that we go to Appleby’s for fries and ice cream – that sounds like a yummy snack. The third is still deliberating. My ladies know my stomach and heart are attached! But these things are just a medium. I have a plan on our outings. I have specific statements I’m going to make during our time together. I will tell them

  • “I love your personality” – and I will mention something about their personality I want to encourage.
  • “You are so beautiful” – and I will focus on their image.
  • “You bring joy to my life” – and I will tell them how.

and I have specific questions for them to:

  • “What makes you happy?”
  • “What do you like to think about?”
  • “What is your favorite thing about your sisters and mommy?”

and then I say to them:

  • “Don’t ever forget that daddy loves you. I’m not perfect. You know that. How many times have I said sorry to you? Too many times. But God is the perfect Daddy. I hope you take days like this and it helps you think about how God is.”

These questions are meant to take us into all sorts of interesting places. I never know where we are going to go with these questions and statements because I don’t know what they are thinking. That is why I ask and state the things I do – so I can hear how they process and where they are coming from. You are the only expert your children need when it comes to a daddy’s love. Just give it a shot.

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