One of the special things I get to see doing the work I do, is the love of fathers. I talk with a lot of men in depth daily.
Initially, what brings us into conversation is to overcome the logistical, internal, and external obstacles in their career, leadership or business. We do this.
But inevitably, our conversations turn to another topic—their children. “I want to ask you one other thing.” “I’m worried about my son.” “Can I get your take on this?” Or sometimes they close their eyes and say, “I really messed up with my kid this week. I need some help.”
As the conversation shifts, something within them shifts too. It’s visible. Suddenly these men who are leading scores of people, running companies and leaping trains in a single bound — they soften. There is no ego in the game. Their hearts widen. Their life’s priority is now on the table.
They light up as they share stories of their kid’s success at the swim meet. How smart she is or how something he said cracked him up.
Other times these fathers worry about their teen’s anxiety, a son who is being bullied, or how their decisions will affect their children in the future.
What they all share in common, regardless of how they express or demonstrate their love, is that they love deeply.
There isn’t a man whose eyes don’t tear up when he ‘sees’ the impact of who he is ‘being’ with his children. When he understands how much his child yearns for his love and validation in these moments, most can’t wait to leave and go express what they haven’t said before.
In addition, the motivation the father previously didn’t have to change things for himself, now has a greater reason ‘why’ and is easier to do when it’s for his child as well.
Recently, a seasoned leader and father could see how hard a time his son was having with a life decision. The father accurately sensed his son was resistant to do what was true for himself, because he thought it would disappoint his father.
The father told his middle-aged son that no matter what choice his son made, he would always love him unconditionally.
The conversation was emotional, life-changing and set his son free.
To use the words of Oprah…this I know for sure…no matter how well fathers speak or demonstrate their love (or not), no matter whether their days reflect their value of family (or not)—they care deeply and are doing the best they can to love their family.
If you are a father, thank you. It is not an easy job but certainly an important one.
And remember there is no way to be a perfect father, but a million ways to be a really good one.
The best of these is to take care of you. Grow you. Be available and choose your own happiness.
The most direct route to improving your child’s life is to improve your own— emotionally, physically and spiritually. Be their model. There is a direct trickle down when you do.
Finally, as you spend your days trying to give much, remember the greatest gift you can ever give your child is free, that is, to tell him or her, “you are unconditionally loved by me.”
Happy Father’s Day!