A Father’s Gratitude

By: Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC

Fatherhood has a way of pulling you in and engulfing you in a sea of activities and emotions that you didn't expect. It doesn't often lend itself to quiet reflection about what it means to be a father. But as I look back on the fathering I've done so far, I'm struck by the changes that my children have helped to create in me.

Changes that will last forever.

And if I reflect on it further, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for their assistance on this path of change.

When your child is born, it's a moment in which you have no other needs. Your children are born perfectly, and they provide all that you could ever want. Because they're perfect, they call on you to meet that perfection. It's the beginning of a journey to become a part of a bigger plan, one that's much bigger than you are. And to meet this perfection, you're forced to face the demons that are a part of your life.

For many fathers, there is no pain greater than falling short of the expectations of your children. It's a reminder that these demons still exist, and that they're passed on to our children if we don't face them. My children remind me of my demons often, and for that I am thankful. For I can be blind to my own issues, and there is no greater incentive to improve than knowing that what isn't healed in me will show up in my children as well.

I'm thankful for what my children have taught me about my parents. They've allowed me to understand my parents better and to honor them for all that they did. I have an appreciation for decisions made by my parents that I didn't agree with at the time. I now know these decisions as acts of love. And I feel an increased desire to return the love and kindness that my parents showed me.

My children have helped me to increase my hatred for war and conflict. They've helped me to know the importance of teaching my son that the model of manhood based on showing power over others is outdated and destructive. And they've sharpened my eye for what's worth fighting for in this world.

I want to thank my children for showing me the power and beauty of innocent, pure love. The kind of love that can take fathers outside of their own importance and into the life of another of God's creations. The kind of love that is devoid of selfish interests and wishes.

Within the deep love that I have for my children, I've found some responsibilities and hardships. But mostly, I've found freedom. I've found the freedom to love others unconditionally. I've found the freedom to look at the world through different eyes. And I've found the freedom to expand my capacity to experience both joy and pain. Through all of it, I've had the freedom to experience a love for my kids that words don't adequately describe.

It's easy to get stuck on how much we do for our kids.

Let's not forget that this is a path that goes both ways.

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches men to be better fathers and husbands. He is the author of 25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers. Go to http://www.markbrandenburg.com/ for a FREE ecourse and newsletter for fathers, and lots more.

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