School holidays have well and truly ended, during which many fathers have had the opportunity to spend some time with their children. For some fathers, the sense that their children are merely ‘visiting’ them, often underscores the idea in both father and children that the children ‘belong’ somewhere else. This idea is often difficult to challenge, particularly when it has originated with court ‘orders’.
The youngest of my children often refers to ‘Dad’s place’. My response to this is usually to say, “No, not my place, your place.” I was privileged enough to be brought up to believe that whatever my father had was also mine (and my brothers’ and sisters’). This is an attitude I also want my children to adopt, and to pass on to their own children. It also helps dispel the notion that the children ‘belong’ elsewhere.
Despite the best efforts of the Family Law System, I have been able to retain ownership of property. However, I consider myself not as an ‘owner’, but as the custodian of the property for the benefit of my children.
Recent experiences have taught me, however, that property and wealth, while difficult to attain, can very easily be lost. Even the most astute and successful businessmen can see their wealth spread its wings and take flight like an eagle.
Kerrie Packer recently lost half of his $1 billion investment in India. Last week’s newspaper reported that Rupert Murdoch lost $12 billion in the last year. His comment was, “Things we thought were strategic investments have turned out to be a fairly nightmarish experience.” This is a sentiment that many separated fathers can relate to.
The greatest wealth we can leave to our children are the attitudes and values that we instill in them. A well-known proverb states:
‘Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’
From an early age, children should be taught compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. This training is our responsibility. For many separated fathers, this is the only asset we can leave our children. It is also the most valuable, most secure, most important and longest lasting.
[Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko