I’m a father first, time management expert second.
While my work day consists of consulting, I’m a father 24/7. Parents can relate – Swim meets, parent-teacher conferences, morning flag duty, late night hospital visits, we’ve done it all. I share the duties with my wife of almost 15 years, and it’s still challenging. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for single parents.
Having nearly lost my life in the tsunami that ravaged Thailand back in 2004, I’m just grateful that I have the opportunity to be a father. It’s my job to make sure my son is ready for the world. So far, so good. He’s working on going to the Junior Olympics next year, will get his black belt in Karate this year and a green belt in Aikido. All before the age of 10. Not bad. Not bad at all.
I attribute his success to giving him five gifts that I believe every parent should give to their children.
Gift #1 Love
Best-selling author and management consultant Brian Tracy says “The greatest gift you can give others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.” Not something you expect to hear from a management consultant, but he goes on to explain that love gives us the courage to try so many things. In order to be successful in life, we cannot be afraid to try.
You cannot tell your children you love them too much. My son believes in always trying his hardest (in sport anyway) because he knows that no matter what we love him. Each night before I tuck him in I remind him of this, because one day, I won’t be able to.
Gift #2 Time
I remember when my father picking glass out of my scalp when I went through the dining room door. I remember my mother sitting down with me each day after school to help me do my homework. I remember the camping trips, the caravan parks, the beaches, the rivers, and the amusement parks. What I don’t remember are the toys.
For children, toys are a poor replacement for time with their family. Toys are like drugs, a quick high, leaving you empty afterwards. Giving your children your time is something that will be remembered long after we’re gone.
Gift #3 Laughter
Every happy child I have ever met has laughter in their life. Many years ago, back when I was a teacher, I had the pleasure of teaching a child with leukemia at the Intensive Care Ward. It broke my heart to see so many children suffering, but I did what I could to bring a smile to my students face. Nearly without exception, the children that smiled the most, had the best chance of recovery.
In the movie, Patch Adams, Robbin Williams plays a doctor who uses happiness and laughter to help his patients’ recover. What makes it even more amazing is that it’s based on a true story.
Gift #4 Learning
Left alone children will learn. The question is what. You want to ensure your children are learning the right things, and develop a sense of excitement toward learning. As such you need to guide them in the right direction. As the adult, that is our job. We’re the ones who have been there. We are the ones who are supposed to know better.
If you’re thinking right now “but I don’t know,” there’s no need to worry because you have the skills and the tools to find out. Google and YouTube are meant for more than just sports results and grammar mistakes, you can find the best information on any topic from parenting to mathematics to martial arts.
Gift #5 Mistakes
Society for the past 20 years or so has done a grave injustice for children. There are those parents who believe that children must be protected from every pain and injury. Bad grades, bullies, injuries and losing have been systematically removed from many children’s lives because of the psychological pain that comes with them.
Unfortunately, by trying to remove them, we have left our children with the inability to handle adversity. Even the smallest joke, insult or slight can leave kids “triggered.” I have to laugh when I heard that college kids were suffering from “micro-aggressions.” The key word being micro.
“Where do you come from?” is my personal favorite. Having lived outside of my own country from the age of 8, I have lost count how many times I’ve been asked it, and not once did I feel offended. It’s a completely natural question to ask anyone.
Growing up my parents gave me free reign to play outside. Sure I had limits, but merry-go-rounds, fireworks and BB guns were all part of my childhood. I came home with scrapes and grazes regularly. There were arguments and there were fights. Didn’t faze us one bit. In fact, it helped us.
I let my son fail. I let him fall. It’s a great experience for children to learn about the truth about life – that it’s not fair. There are winners and there are losers. Sometimes lazy people get promotions. Sadly, sometimes cheaters win. Life is what it is. We can’t change human nature or the laws of gravity, we just have to learn to live with them.
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Photo by Scott