Monday, June 14, 2010

Fathering With a Purpose

Making A Difference That Counts

As a parent it is important to love our kids. This seems obvious but many times is forgotten in the day to day hustle of life. Some reflection on this may help us to remember why this is so important.

Donald Miller in his book Searching for God Knows What writes about the affects of a child not having love in his life.

"If a kid doesn't feel he is loved, he is going to go looking for it in all kinds of ways. He is going to want to feel powerful and important or tough, and she is going to want to feel beautiful and wanted and needed. Give a kid the feeling of being loved early, and they will be better at negotiating that other stuff when they get older. They won't fall for anything stupid, and they won't feel a kind of desperation all the time in their souls."

As a domestic violence counselor and program coordinator of the Men’s Alternatives to Abusive Patterns program at The Center for Violence-Free Relationships, I have found that many times the root cause of unhealthy behavior comes from a deep void that was left from the person's childhood. Many times the void is a father missing the mark on loving the child and letting them know that they matter.

We can let our kids know they matter to us by showing them affection, writing them a letter, playing with them, supporting them and their endeavors, affirming them and telling them how they have touched our life in an impactful way.

Taking In Those Special Moments
Another thing we can do as fathers is to receive their love and affection. Sometimes we may be tired from a long day at work and our child wants to play with us, share a story from school or sing us a song. These are moments when we can be there for them and receive their gift to connection with us. Being present is essential in effective parenting.

I recall fondly one occasion when I was heading to work and my son Andrew, who was five years old at the time, came up to me and said, “Daddy I want to give you a hug before you go.”

He proceeded to come up and hug my leg. As he wrapped his arms around my right leg he kissed my leg twice. I bent down and gave him a hug and kissed his head. I was so moved by this spontaneous gesture of affection. I decided to include this in my journal. I told myself, “I feel grateful that my son Andrew hugged me today because it met my need for connection, to matter to someone and to receive affection.”

I really took in this gift and soaked it in by documenting it and expressing what needs where met by this event. It is good to reflect on the positive things that are happening in our life because it motivates us to keep tending and cultivating them.

Valuing Our Treasures
My father once told me about a conversation that he had with a co-worker. He said that the co-worker told him that he wished he could be as rich as my father. My father looked at him confused and asked, "What do you mean?" The co-worker said, "You have a beautiful family. You are the richest person I know."

If we take care of our family and tend to it with care we will have riches and treasures that cannot compare to material riches. I strongly desire to invest in my family and see my children grow into reflections of God's love and grace. I desire to see this lived out in millions of homes. I believe that we can change the world one family at a time if we focus on family and commit to doing the hard work.

I wish all fathers a very special Father’s Day and I hope to encourage fathers to do the hard work of being present and affectionate with their children. May you be a father who has the courage to affirm, to encourage and be there when your children need you.



Thess said...

I'm a new mother and I find your article useful. Thanks for sharing.

Eddie Zacapa said...

Thanks Thess. Congratulations on being a new mom! May you enjoy your little one and have many more blessings come your way.