You may know that our mission at the National Center for Fathering is to inspire and equip dads. I’ll tell you up front: today’s blog is pure inspiration. When you see these photos, I think you’ll agree….
Here’s what happened not long ago when a dad named Lane came home after a week-long work trip. His nine-year-old son Andy, without his mom helping or even knowing about it, created and left a series of handwritten notes around the house, like a scavenger hunt for his dad.
The first note was on the front door:
“Dear Dad, I know right now as you are reading this I am asleep. I have had a very good week. Especially when I got that Bionicle set. Tomorrow morning may you please leave a letter of how your week went? Love, your son Andy.”
A few steps into the house, Lane got his first clue:
“First clue: Go to the kitchen [for] a bite to eat. Then go [to] the loft for your second clue.”
I just love it that Andy thought about his dad being hungry when he first got home. Here’s the second clue:
“Second clue: Go to the kids’ room and you will find your third clue.”
Then this in the kids’ room:
“Third clue: Go to the loft again and find the fourth clue.”
If you’re wondering where all this was leading, you can imagine Lane’s sense of anticipation. Back in the loft, he found this:
“Fourth clue: Hooray, you found the surprise!”
What was the surprise? Four more handwritten pages, taped together to form a little book. First was the title page:
“You Are a Great Father, by Andy.”
“When I am down, you help me up. When I get hurt, you help me out of pain.”
“You are good. You keep us healthy. You keep us safe. You keep us happy.”
“You are a great father.”
How can your heart not be stirred by that? Lane says his heart just melted.
And I don’t know what situation you’re in today. Maybe your experiences as a dad involve a lot more struggles than expressions of love. Maybe you’re at odds with your kids much more than you’re enjoying each other. Or maybe you aren’t able to see your children for some reason. It could be that you’re traveling for work and missing your kids right now.
Whatever situation you’re in, I hope you feel the pride in Andy’s notes. Lane will tell you he’s no perfect dad, but it stirs my heart to see that little Andy knows his dad plays an important and valuable role.
You may never have a son or daughter do a special surprise like that, but I hope you’ll hear Andy’s words as if they were coming from your child: “When I am down, you help me up. When I get hurt, you help me out of pain. You’re good. You help keep us healthy. You keep us safe. You keep us happy.”
Dad, know that your efforts as a father are noticed and appreciated—even if your children never tell you. They really do need you, and they would be much worse off without you. Soak in those positive feelings of love, awe, humility, pride, accomplishment, or gratitude. Then, translate that into a greater commitment to be the dad your children need. Do all you can to live up to the best that they think of you.
Has one of your children done something like what Andy did for his dad? How did it make you feel? Please add to the inspiration by sharing your experiences with me and other dads either below or on our Facebook page.
You’re a great father to your kids! Keep up the good work, dad.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
- Do something surprising and creative to show how much you appreciate each of your children.
- Encourage your kids to do something special to appreciate their mom—or a teacher or coach who is special to them.
- Take some silly photos with your child.
- Does your child have a stressful or challenging event or day coming up? Do something extra to help make it go better.
- When you come home from work, devote the few minutes to reconnecting with each family member before you go relax or start on other responsibilities.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.