Dear Dads, Your Presence is Priceless

Far and away the most important job I’ve ever held, is being Dad to our son Tyler and daughter Brittany; especially while they were growing up and our house was still their home.

I’ve made mistakes over the years and sometimes fallen short in several “Dad” categories. I suppose most men who’ve been a father for any length of time can relate. I’ve yelled when I should have listened, jumped to conclusions without fully considering all the facts and at times, had unrealistic expectations of my children’s behavior. But by the grace of God, one thing I don’t have to live with is remorse over not having spent enough time being present during their formidable years.

Perhaps one of the most under-valued roles of fatherhood is simply hanging around our children. Whether you’re on the floor playing with them, teaching them how to ride a tricycle or throw a ball, or just being in the general vicinity while they’re watching TV or playing with their friends, being there is the key.    

Our son Tyler, a Child Life Specialist at St. Louis Children’s hospital, has said on more than one occasion, “The only thing kids really want is for you to play with them.” From a child’s perspective, truer words have probably never been spoken.

As a dad, we have many responsibilities when it comes to our children. Providing life’s basic necessities while protecting them from the less than positive influences of this world, are of course at the top of a long list of duties and responsibilities. But even those most critical categories of fatherhood start with the most basic action of simply showing up. After all, it’s difficult to play with your kids, much less have a positive influence on them, if you spend nearly all of your awake-time someplace else.

Years ago a popular catch phrase caught on that went something like this:

“It’s not the amount of time you spend with your family; it’s the quality of time.” It’s only my opinion, but I’m guessing the person who came up with that line was looking for an excuse to feel better about rarely being present. That may sound harsh, but I believe the majority of kids would choose having their dad around most of the time, versus having him around just occasionally, regardless of how that time is actually being utilized

This Father’s Day, if I could suggest one thing to any dad with young kids, it would be this: Spend all the time you possibly can in the general vicinity of your kids. Opportunities to get down on the floor and play with them or roll around in the mud, are fleeting. Your greatest chance at having a positive influence on your child’s life or perhaps a shot at reaching hero status in their mind, occurs when they’re still kids and before they come to the realization that, in reality, you’re actually just a man.

The most important job any father will ever have, is being a dad to our children.

Russ and his wife Sue live in Bentonville, Arkansas.  He is the father of two grown children and “Papa” to 4 world-class grandchildren!  A former corporate executive, he is now a speaker and mentor on leadership behavior and development.  He is the author of the Book Leading Regular Folks-What Matters Most in the Workplace. He owns and operates a “one-of-a-kind” corporate retreat and team-building venue, located in Southwest Missouri.

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