The other day, I was hanging out with a college senior and we got on the topic of our families; he then said something I rarely hear college students say, especially young men. He said: "My father is my hero! I still hope to be like him when I grow up!"
Many folks I happen to bump into on my journey have confessed a lack of closeness with their fathers, if their fathers were in their lives at all. Many men state they want to be the exact opposite of their fathers and the women I run into say they want to marry someone totally opposite of their fathers as well. One thing I know for sure is that as men, we are linchpins in the lives of our children and too often we abdicate our role.
We can be men of legend in our families for good or for ill. I for one desire to leave a long lasting positive legacy with my children; I hope one day my kids say of me: "My Daddy? Yeah, he's my hero!" So with this big dream ahead of me, the question begging to be answered is "how do we leave a long lasting positive legacy with our children?"
In hopes of getting some of this right, I compiled a few things I see as Key to developing this great and long lasting legacy.
1. Be With Your Kids
Some men would think this to mean that I am physically present with my kids and that is the summation of this point. That I am continuously learning is a false conclusion. I am learning that to really be with my kids, I must be fully invested, physically, emotionally, conversationally and even spiritually. My children are looking to me to find much of their early years of identity. My words (as well as my wife's) hold sway over who my kids think they are. So, if I am present in the body and nothing else, I am not building with them a positive formation of their identity.
2. Listen To Them
This one is hard for me. I listen but with my mind on other things. My son tells me something and sadly sometimes, I give the "Uh huh, OK buddy, that's nice" type of typical response. I deeply desire this to change in my life. I want to be the kind of father that listens to my children and one they desire to come to and share their lives with from now until I die!
3. Teach Them
A father that leaves a great legacy takes time to teach his kids. Setting aside time to teach them all sorts of things from the geeky stuff we're into (for me, Star Wars and Super Heroes) to the deeper life stuff like love, sex and dating. We can't allow others to teach our kids the big ones, we can't give those precious lessons over to an un-precious world. These are our children! We are to also teach them how wonderful they are, which goes along with some of my points in #1. Much of their identity comes from us, so let's teach them they are worth it, they are special, they are amazing, they are talented and they are lovable!
4. Pray For Them
Many folks reading this may or may not believe in God. For me, I do and I have found this truth of leaving a legacy to be 100% real in the lives of my kids. Even if you don't believe, praying is a great thing. I desire my kids to be protected and praying for them is spiritual and also shows your care for them in an outward manner. So I pray!
5. Show Physical and Verbal Affection
I end with this one, because I feel for some of us men snuggling with and showing our kids physical affection is not always a priority, but it is important! I personally love snuggling with my kids and love the fact that they want to hug me or cuddle with me. Yet we also must be affectionate with our words as well. Speaking our love over them, speaking their importance to us into their lives are important factors of leaving a legacy.
Are there more ways to leave a great legacy as fathers? TONS! I'd love to hear your ways of leaving a legacy too, so we can learn together how to be better fahters and become fathers who leave a GREAT legacy in the lives of our children. Post your thoughts below!