“To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.” ―Josh Billings
Children learn more from watching their parents than from listening to them – more is caught than taught. As parents, this puts great weight on how we conduct our lives. It requires us to be intentional about how we live. It requires us to self-reflect and evaluate if our lives match our words. And it requires us to be intentional about identifying the lessons we hope our kids will take from us.
Here then, as my two children get older, are the 35 Things I Hope They Will Say About Their Dad. They represent the 35 most important lessons I hope they will learn from my life.
1. “He loved us.” I could see it in his words, his face, and his actions.
2. “He loved our mom.” And was always faithful to her.
3. “He was honest” Both to us and to others. I never remember him telling a lie.
4. “He was spiritual.” He valued things bigger than this world and kept his eyes open for them.
5. “He worked hard.” He understood the value of a hard day’s work and wasn’t afraid of it.
6. “But he always came home on time.” He worked hard at his job. But he knew when to quit for the day.
7. “He cared about people more than money.”
8. “He was a good friend.” He taught me what that meant in a world that doesn’t.
9. “He helped others.” He looked for opportunities to serve—especially those who couldn’t help themselves.
10. “He was generous.” with his home, his money, his time, and his energy.
11. “He made us laugh.” It was always fun to spend time with him.
12. “He loved to read.” He read for work, for pleasure, and for self-improvement.
13. “He loved life.” He cherished all the moments of life—the big ones and the little ones.
14. “He always had great hope.” His hope was new, it was alive, and it was lasting.
15. “He had our best in mind.” We were disciplined, but it never felt motivated by anger, only love.
16. “He was proud of us.” He told us often.
17. “But he pushed us to improve.” He parented out of love and a genuine desire for us to succeed.
18. “He saw the best in people.” And sought to learn from them.
19. “He loved his family.” He cared for his parents and loved having everyone together.
20. “He was always good to mom.” His love for her provided a healthy model for my family.
21. “He had a smile every morning.” Each day provided a wealth of opportunity. And he chose to greet it with a smile.
22. “He lived within his means.” We were taken care of. We did fun stuff. We had nice things. But he knew where to draw the line.
23. “He was unselfish.” Life was always about more than getting the most for yourself.
24. “He was wise.” He had a healthy grasp on people, life, and situations.
25. “He was quick to forgive.” He knew that he had been forgiven much. And was quick to offer that same grace to others.
26. “He didn’t let culture dictate his beliefs.”
27. “I knew I could count on him when I needed him.” Anytime, day or night.
28. “For some reason, I couldn’t get away with lying to him.” He demanded honesty and I respected that. He could read me too well.
29. “He was always asking about my friends.” He wanted to know everything he could about the people I chose to spend time with.
30. “He knew how to rest.” He knew when and how to take time refreshing his body and soul.
31. “He dreamed big dreams for me.” Even when I didn’t believe in myself, he did.
32. “He loved eating meals together.”
33. “He treated his body well.” He knew the importance of keeping his body healthy – not for vain reasons, but to remain effective to this world as long as possible.
34. “He loved his job.” He worked hard at his job not because of the money, but because he believed in what he did.
35. “He knew the difference between want and need.”
And with this many life lessons to teach my children, I better not waste a single day—including this one.