I once went to a men’s breakfast where Paul Bartlett, then a father of young children, was speaking about the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. He told the story of how, once a month, his dad, who was in a high-pressure management job, used to take him to the Saturday markets at Campbelltown, west of Sydney.
Paul used to look forward to this time with his father, sitting in the front seat of the car with his dad and talking about stuff. He found that just being with his dad gave him strength and confidence.
Paul also shared the battle he faces to give the proper time to his children, because he too is in a high-pressure management job. Being a pastor of a large citywide church is about as high pressure as you can get!
He pointed out that when we get home, as much as we want to slump down and bury ourselves in the TV or newspapers, as dads we simply can’t afford to do so, but must be prepared to ‘go the extra mile’ for our children.
Our children gain security and strength just by simply ‘being with us’.
I can remember when, as a boy of about six years old, my dad took me to his office in the city. I felt important as I caught the train over the Sydney Harbour Bridge sitting next to my dad.
I felt important as I sat in my dad’s office and typed important letters on the typewriter and answered the imaginary phone by my side.
I’m sure I annoyed dad with too many questions and wasted too much paper, but nevertheless, here I am, 60 years later, telling you the story just as Paul told his story about having a ‘day out with dad’. It’s amazing the positive effect of father-time on our children.
Let me tell you about an older dad I knew, who was a bricklayer. He had three girls and one boy. His son struggled with school when he was 12 or 13 years of age. Some days he just did not want to go to school.
His son was smart, but was just not suited to being stuck inside all day. He had a practical bent like his father, and he became a tad disruptive in class. Schoolteachers started to ring home with bad reports, and his grades didn’t look good either.
Thankfully, his dad understood and knew what to do. Rather than come down on him hard, he took his son out of school for a week and let him become a bricky’s labourer.
Working hard in the hot son and getting some scrapes and bruises was the best way to inspire his son that short-term sacrifice would ultimately lead to long-term gain. He boasted of his son’s ability to work hard to all and sundry, but was secretly happy when his son decided to go back to school.
You could call it a ‘rite of passage’ if you want, but either way it worked. Today, his son is in his early thirties and working as an engineer in the mines, earning $200,000 per year. Nothing succeeds like success.
Amazing the difference some ‘Days out with Dad’ can make in a child’s life!
I was walking home from the post office one day. As I looked across a building site I saw a concreter washing out his barrow while his three-year-old son was sitting on a concrete block. They were chatting and laughing together.
I stopped and said to the concreter, “I see you have got a great young apprentice with you there.” The concreter smiled and said something like, “He sure is and I’m proud of him!”
His little boy looked up at me beaming. His expression said it all: “My dad loves me, I’m important to my dad and I’m having fun on this building site with my dad.” Children can say so much with one simple expression, can’t they?
Never underestimate the power of involving your children in your work and sharing your life with your children. You will bring strength and encouragement to their hearts in ways you had never considered possible.
Take your child to work with you for the day. Your children will learn far more from you than they will ever learn at school for one day. It’s a great thing to do during the school holidays too. You will teach them through your love, care and time that they are important and special.
They will gain strength and encouragement from you. From your child’s point of view, your time is their greatest asset. Spend wisely!
Yours for more time together,
PS: Sadly we will not be having our official Dads4Kids Fun Camp at Wollondilly River Station bush camp this year. The first cancellation for over a decade, and a sad one at that. The COVID red tape is a burden too great to bear, and we would be over the official NSW limit of 20 people, including dads and children. Check out the most recent 2018 video teaser and a blast from the past — the Dads4Kids 2007 Bush Fun Camp. Just because we are not going officially doesn’t mean that you cannot go yourself, or have some similar adventure in your own region!
[Photo by Crema Joe