I’m sure many people tuned into this post to find out about the hot new gadget to get dad for Fathers’ Day. Sorry, but there’s no update on the newest in computerized grill accessories or digitized golf toys. Instead, I wanted to share an idea for the ultimate gift – the one that more than pays for itself. Unfortunately, there’s a major string attached to this gift – Dad doesn’t actually receive it until many years down the road. In fact, with this gift, Dad needs to do most of the heavy lifting! I know this isn’t sounding much like the traditional gift, but trust me – it’s the best gift ever given and ever received.
Probably the strongest desire for most kids is for their father to take them somewhere. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s a ball game, an amusement park, the zoo – anywhere. What this communicates to a child is profound – it says I’m worthy of my dad’s time and attention. I remember those few times when I was a boy that my dad took me somewhere and I had his full attention. I’m not just talking about his physical presence because I had that quite a bit. I’m talking about his full attention – when it was all about him and me. Those were the special moments and memories I hold the closest. As a grown man, nothing has really changed. If my dad asks me to do anything – just the two of us – then I’m there – he simply needs to name the time and place.
As a father I am becoming more and more aware of my ability to be present with no presence. I’m starting to realize how often I’ve emotionally checked out on my own family due to work, deadlines, or random worries. Too often I’m there in body but my attention is far away. I’m good at fooling myself into believing that just showing up is all that’s required and all that should be expected of me. I’m becoming more aware that simply standing on the sidelines at sporting events or coaching isn’t good enough. My family needs me to be available and present to the everyday things that matter to them. When I’m focused on my future Fathers’ Day gift, the one I will hopefully receive in 15-20 years, I all of a sudden don’t feel too busy, tired or distracted.
What if, on this Fathers’ Day, dads around the world decided we were going to take our kids somewhere special and intentionally give them the gift of our presence? When a man imparts his masculine energy to a son or daughter I don’t think there’s anything more powerful and life-giving in this world. It’s particularly essential for boys.
In fact, what would happen to our streets and cities if more and more fathers took their teenage boys on Man Quest adventures – proactively teaching them the ways of manhood. There’s no doubt that society and culture would be changed forever as a result. When fathers move – good things happen. Do you have 25 hours to take the Man Quest journey and bestow the mantle of manhood to your son? A teenage boy who goes on a Man Quest journey with his father stands up a little taller and speaks a little stronger than one who had to figure the manhood thing out on his own.
So on this Fathers’ Day, instead of waiting on a new tie, a box of golf balls or some “Best Dad in the World” boxer shorts, I say we reverse things up a bit and start giving the present of our presence to our families. Let’s raise our games and be resolved that showing up is only the starting point to becoming a great father. Let’s make a pledge to be emotionally ready to take our kids to places that are true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. These opportunities are all around us – every single day!
And one day, if we stick with it, many years from now, when we least expect it, maybe we will get our Fathers’ Day gift from 2012. It will happen when we look into the eyes of our sons and daughters and we’ll know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we took them somewhere special – and that will be the greatest gift we ever receive.