To My Kids,
I know that I speak for your mother in saying that we love you with all that is inside of us. We had no idea how much you would enrich our lives, thus we thank God for you daily.
I wanted to write a letter to you. Sure, I realize that the two of you are so young that you can’t read this yet, but I pray that as you age, these words can help to guide your life. In the process of writing it, I am sharing it with the world (or at least the ScreamFree fans) with the hope that it can help them as well.
As a spouse and a father, I’ve learned a few things. That in which I have been blessed to learn cannot be contained in one letter, but I thought I’d write down a few of the really big ones. If you choose to focus on these things, I think you can have a richer experience with your family.
1. Love Your Spouse
There is a Hebrew proverb that says, “A man that finds a wife finds a good thing.” I believe this holds true for a woman that finds a husband as well. Spouses should be cherished as gifts from God. They should be loved. Of course, you will have to define what “love” really means and then communicate your understanding of it to your spouse. Trust me—that’ll be helpful.
Your spouse, at times, will upset you and hurt you like no one else in the world. Strive not to “get even” or “retaliate.” Just love them. This is the very thing you pledged to do on your wedding day.
With that said, be careful who you choose to marry. Do not search for someone that can “complete” you. You will never find that person. No one can complete you, for you are already complete.
Please do not give your spouse a list of “needs” that they must meet in order to make you happy. Your spouse cannot meet your needs. Do not lay upon your spouse a burden that they can’t hope to bear.
2. Appreciate the Individuality of Your Children
As you are blessed with kids, learn quickly to appreciate them as individuals. Don’t feel threatened when you discover that they are different from you. They may not have your temperament or sense of adventure. That’s okay.
Appreciate the differences. Learn to enjoy all the things that make you different. This will impact their lives more than you know.
3. Learn to Give Time
I hope that by the time you read this letter, you will see that your father did a pretty good job with this one. Believe me though, it didn’t come easy. I learned this one the hard way.
You can’t spend every waking moment with your family (nor should you), but give them the time that they deserve. Don’t shortchange them. Don’t give them the energy that you have left over from the day. Give them your best.
4. Learn How to Set Boundaries
As adults you will need to learn how to set proper boundaries. There are areas around your life that should only be reserved for certain people. I have described them in times past as the “Circles of Life.”
Think of them as concentric circles around your life. The inner most circle should be reserved for you and your spouse. No one else should be able to get in, including your kids. Learn to enjoy that space. The next circle around your life is perhaps occupied by your children. In this space, you enjoy your family time or just your one-on-one time with your kids.
The other layers of circles may be reserved for your job, friends and parents/siblings—in whatever order you choose.
As your parents, there may be times when we try to invade the circle that you have set for your own family. Know that it comes from an honest place of love. Nevertheless, please don’t allow it to happen. Calmly—but firmly inform us of our actions and your desire to chart a new course with those entrusted to you. We will understand. Your sibling may try to encroach upon a restricted area as well. Lovingly, follow the same course with them as you did with us.
As I write this, I am listening to the two of you in the next room. You are playing and laughing. You are enjoying yourselves. I pray that the sense of wonderment, adventure and play that you have will continue to rest within your souls.
Keep on playing and laughing. Find joy in all that you do. Don’t take life too seriously.