Several years ago radio producer and author Jay Payleitner was a recent guest on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast. He was asked to speak on some important ways dads can be meaningful contributors to the well-being of their rapidly growing kids. Though Carol and I are beyond those particular formative years now, I recall what was shared was certainly worth highlighting this month for the sake of parents and grandparents alike, celebrating of course Father’s Day. The wisdom relayed that day went beyond the years. Further, it could apply to the numerous roles most men might get in relating to kids—as dads, grandfathers, uncles, or as “father-figures” in the lives of impressionable young people.
Early in his presentation, I recall Payleitner spoke about two key roles (men), father’s in particular, can play. They involved important opportunities they have early on in the lives of their children. The first thing he encouraged was for dads to take the time to hold their infants. To actually make the effort on a regular basis to hold those babies snug to their chests. Payleitner went on to cite several studies which spoke to the importance of human touch to the overall welfare us humans. Beginning in infancy.
Regularly holding your babies, dad, helps them grow up healthy! It’s not that hard and they really don’t easily break. I remember some of my early experiences where a slightly modified football hold worked well for me. I was reminded, the act was an investment in my child’s future.
Then a second first-rate suggestion Payleitner offered was that whenever possible—be the parent or alongside s/he who does tuck the youngster(s) in bed at night. With a little work you’ll get a routine established that may well include a story or two, or perhaps even a kid’s devotion. Make it fun! Believe it or not, kids will actually come to treasure the bedtime time you spend with them. This is a fleeting opportunity I regret not doing more often.
Payleitner then mentioned some ideas from his book, 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad. The book encourages fathers to go that extra mile for their children. He offered a lot of encouragement to center on and celebrate important times with your kids. Whether challenging times, or merely routine happenings. In this, I hear quality time alone is not enough. Quantity time is just as vital. So, do celebrate the seemingly mundane with them. Because, you’ll be amazed at what they remember when they become adults and share their own kid stories with you. I certainly am. Both affirmatively and sheepishly. Kids view things differently. Sometimes dramatically different from what we may have thought the first time.
Payleitner then advised dads to take the long view on many of the circumstances they share with their kids. He added, make sure the kids always feel your love and grace. “I love you; it will be o.k., and I’ll be there with you,” is an excellent strategy. It’s a response that also covers many of the trying eventualities dads and moms experience with their older children. Furthermore, it’s how our Heavenly Father most often relates to us. If you err, do it on the side of being more loving, offering more grace, not less. And know that your precious moments together will pass ever so quickly; you will never regret the time you spent together. There are no second chances for a first impressions with an adult, or a child. May God bless all your efforts to be the very best Dad you can be.