Legacy — now, there’s a word we don’t often use in everyday conversation. It’s the sort of word that carries both mystery and prestige. We may tend to think of a legacy as something passed on by a powerful person, someone who has left a mark on the world, for better or worse, like the legacy left by a ruler or by an entrepreneur who invented a device that changed the world. The truth is, we all will be leaving a legacy behind. Big or small, impactful or indifferent, every single one of us will leave something.
So let me ask you a couple of questions: Before you became a single father, did you ever give thought to what sort of legacy you may leave your children one day? Has that changed since you became a single dad?
Just because your circumstances have changed doesn’t mean you can’t still leave a strong legacy to your children. In fact, you may have an even greater opportunity now. Adversity, if approached right, can reap great rewards. Trials can bring hope. Here are three quick tips for how you can leave a multi-generational legacy.
1. Cherish each moment
I once had lunch with a happily married father. I shared about my limited time with my daughter and how I wished I could tuck her in each night or pick up the phone and call her whenever I wanted. He admitted he may be taking his time with his children for granted.
Use the time you have to your greatest advantage. Think of quality, not quantity. Love on your kids, laugh with them, invest in them, and discipline them. When we grasp how valuable our time with our children really is, we tend to put greater emphasis on what matters most.
2. Let them see you aren’t perfect
I believe owning our mistakes, admitting when we’re wrong, and confessing our mishaps are some of the manliest things we can do. Perhaps it’s ownership of why you and Mom split or that as a full-time parent, you need the help and support of others to get through life. Whatever the case, anytime we can exchange pride for humility, we are giving our children great confidence that as fathers, we don’t always get it right — and that’s OK.
3. Little things add up
I have never been able to keep up with my daughter’s mom and her side of the family and their capacity to take fancy trips and buy fancy gifts. Ever heard the saying the best things in life aren’t things?
It’s fair to say that single parents are usually short on two things: time and money. When we can figure out how to steward both for our children’s benefit, then we are leaving a legacy that matters.
Playing games on the floor, reading a bedtime story, a simple hug or kiss goodnight, and, most of all, the words I love you will all add up when we are gone and our kids are reflecting on our time with them.
What changes can you make today to replace temporary moments with memories that will last forever?
A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.
– Forest E. Witcraft
Sound off: What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your kids?
Originally published at All Pro Dad. Photo by Tatiana Syrikova.