To all you Dads...an open letter to encourage each of you to focus on what is important in your relationship with your kid. Notice I didn't say your relationship with your student athlete. You see, your kid may be a student, an athlete, a student-athlete, an all star, a bench warmer, a reserve, a 5 star recruit, an academic genius, or even a combination of some of these. Maybe your kid is the 5.0 student athlete who is a 5 star recruit being looked at by both the Ivy League and the SEC. It doesn't matter. First and foremost, your kid is exactly that-your kid. They may be smart, athletic, musical, or anything else. But that is what they do and what they have accomplished. No matter what, the big thing is they are your kid. And guess what, your first priority is being their father, not their quarterback or pitching coach, not their academic advisor or college counselor, or not their musc teacher. Now, as a father, part of your duties might include coaching, tutoring, or teaching music. But, c'mon, your first job is to love them as a father.
It doesn't matter if your kid is a 5.0 student with 3 honors courses. It doesn't matter if they have 50 schools wanting to recruit them for a sport, or their SAT scores are off the chart. If you are not there in their lives making a difference by loving them, guiding them, listening to them, and protecting them then you really have missed the point of being a father.
I can appreciate all the sacrifices fathers make for their children, especially if it is out of love. But if love is lacking and it is not the motivation for you in your relationship with your kids, you are really missing out. Now, I am not going to dole out a lot of advice on how to raise your kids. How you raise your kids is a decision that you and your spouse have to make. But, what you need is to begin by loving your kids, every day of their lives. When kids know that they are loved and that love is unconditional it gives them a comfort level and strength that cannot be matched.
If your kids make a mistake and discipline or correction is warranted, you choose how to do that, but make love the key component. Your kids need to know that you love them when you discipline them, when they drop the game winning throw, when they win the long jump, when they get a C or an A, or when they get in a car accident because they weren't paying attention. No matter what the scenario, start with a hug and I love you and go from there. I know there may some situations that very serious and have serious consequences for your kids, BUT you still need to let them know you love them no matter what. Again, hug and say I love you and then begin sorting out the issues, working on challenges, or facing a life crisis.
Don't let your kids at any age feel they are alone. Let them see your love in action. Play a video game with them. Let them show you how they use a notebook or their computer. Listen to their music sometimes with them-trust me, your ears won't bleed (not much). Talk to them about school, sports, sex, drugs, the sky, cars, peanut butter, or anything. Just talk to them!
There is alot going on for kids today. Alot of pressure to be number one in everything they do. Part time jobs are hard to find. Getting into college is harder and more expensive. Temptations regarding drugs, sex, and other stuff are staring them right in the face. Again, you choose how to raise them and deal with these things, but please love your children unconditionally. It is the greatest gift you can give to them. Trust me, you will make mistakes as a father, but kids are pretty forgiving and guess what, deep down inside under all that sarcasm and silence, they love you back.
So, dads, get to it-love your kids-every day and in different ways!