It’s great to be needed, wanted and appreciated

I’m amazed by how our children’s statements serve as windows to the essential role we have in their lives.

Last weekend, for example, my 7-year-old experienced a nose bleed. It wasn’t serious; nothing more than dried-out membranes that many experience this time of year. I wasn’t home at the time so it was Granny who attended to him with the nurturing, loving care that is uniquely grandma. Still, my little man’s statement to her was, “Granny, you better call Dad.”

A couple weeks ago some of us dads in the neighborhood got together to have a baseball game with our kids. As we divided up into teams, D.J. lobbied for me. “I want my dad on my team,” he said. I was moved and puzzled at the same time; D.J. can be pretty competitive and while I used to be a half-decent ballplayer, nowadays I’m mostly just old, certainly older than some of the other dads who were there and in better shape than I am. But on this day, D.J. wasn’t as concerned about winning or losing as he was about he and I competing together.

He’s also at that “my dad’s tougher than your dad” age and God help me when he volunteers me to prove it. Or, my dad can do this or my dad can do that, which provides for some further teachable moments.

At the end of the day, my son’s confidence in me to be able to do anything inspires me to try because being his go-to and sounding board (for whatever he needs at 7 years old) is the greatest purpose I’ve ever known.

Friends tell me it’s even more rewarding when your adult children continue to use you as a touchstone. When they call, for example, to ask your advice in financial issues or what direction to take in something or how to fix anything from broken cars to broken hearts.

The fact is, we matter, we matter a great deal in shaping our children’s character and helping them to believe in themselves by spending the time and effort they need us to experience that we believe in them. When their desire for that sort of reassurance and connection continues well in to their adult years, what better a statement that we truly do make a difference?