Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A different Father's Day post

Many people have written thoughtful pieces on Father's Day, mostly in praise of fathers (understandably). I'd like to write one from a slightly different angle. (I have an excuse for being a couple days late for this - I was out of state for a wedding over Father's Day weekend, and only returned to my computer today.)

As a father, I'd like to express my appreciation for my children. Father's Day is usually when children express appreciation for the guidance and counsel of their fathers. This is appropriate, but I also want to take a minute to express how much I appreciate my children: their character and integrity, and the soundness of the choices they've made. If I deserve any credit for raising them well, then they deserve at least as much credit for letting themselves be raised, and for making good choices in the long haul of their lives. They are all now adults, and I'm proud of them all.

Since correction is part of parenthood, especially fatherhood, parents can be prone to focus on the shortcomings of their children. They are (or should be) naturally attuned to when they make poor choices, in order to guide them in the right direction. I know full well that my children made some poor choices while growing up, sometimes directly contrary to instructions and advice meant to head off just those choices. But here's the important thing: they didn't make many poor choices, and they didn't keep making them. They learned from them, and corrected their choices to be ones that honoured God, themselves, and their fellow men. And that's what really mattered: the choices they made once they'd left home.

Some years ago, in the midst of trying to teach my children important life lessons, it was very liberating for me to realize that it didn't really matter how poorly my children learned them while they lived at home. The important thing was that they remembered the lessons once they left. Sure, it could be trying if they didn't learn earlier, but the critical goal was prepare them for what happened when they walked out the door. Fortunately, I had a handy example of someone who "learned late": myself. My father and mother tried to teach me a lot of things while I still lived at home, but I wasn't learning. When I got out into the real world, I remembered very quickly, and then I was extremely glad that they'd been so persistent. My children were wiser than I, and mostly made good choices even while they lived at home. By the time they reached adulthood, I can say without reservation that they've made choices that have made me proud to be their father.

So here's my Father's Day meditation: I have wonderful children who have made good choices. Sure, sound parenting has its place, but lots of better parents than I have had children who have turned away and chosen folly. If I deserve credit for my work in raising my children, they deserve at least as much credit for making good choices in life. God bless you, my precious children. I'm so proud of you.


Arwen said...

Thank you, Dad, for being such a great father! We're blessed to have you, truly.

Branwen said...

You have set the example for us with our children and that is an amazing gift. We love you Dad!