One thing I can’t give my son

Most kids want lots of things.

One thing I can't give my son

If you’ve ever taken a toddler through the toy aisle at Target, you know exactly what I mean.

My son, Colton, is no exception. Toys on TV commercials for $19.95 plus shipping and handling especially peak his interest.

“Dad, I need that!”

It’s pretty easy to say “no” to those things, and I don’t give them a second thought afterward.

Lately though, he really wants something a little bit different.

Well, quite a bit different actually.

You see, Colton has become quite curious about my father. He really wants to know my father…to talk to him…to meet him. And I would give anything to arrange that meeting, but my dad passed away a few years before Colton was born.

There is no doubt they would have been best buddies too. My dad could make any kid laugh at any time, and Colton loves the kind of jokes dad told.

Even at such a young age he wrestles with it, and it saddens him that meeting can’t happen…so much so that he told my wife he didn’t want to go to Heaven.

“Because when God takes you to Heaven, He doesn’t let you come back.”

Man, I’ve thought about that so much since he said it.

Colton wants my dad to come back. And my feeble mind has a hard time even thinking of a way to approach talking about that with a four year old, much less actually providing a valid response.

All I know is my son wants something that I would really, really love to give him, but I can’t.

That’s hard for me to swallow. I mean, the moment I became a parent I began thinking about all the things I wanted to give my children, and not just tangible things like food or a home or an LSU jersey. I’m also talking about things like love and patience, kindness and encouragement…family.

I never put any thought into the fact that there might actually be things like that I can’t provide.

And while time with my dad is one thing I can’t give my son and I don’t know exactly how to talk Colton through his feelings of sadness just yet, there is something I can give him.

Authenticity. Realness. Honesty.

You see, the truth is I’m very much saddened that Colton can’t meet my dad, too. I miss my dad. In fact, I’m still grieving. (I don’t believe you ever really stop.) To pretend otherwise would be a lie.

So what I can do is use this as an opportunity to sit next to my son and to put my arm around him and to tell him that I know how he feels…that I feel the same way…and some days it really stinks.

You see, sometimes it’s tempting for parents, especially dads, to act tough and to pretend like things don’t affect us, but that isn’t real. That isn’t honest.

Kids need to know their parents are real people.

And real people experience pain and defeat and doubt and failure.

And once our kids realize that we are human, we become so much more relatable to them. They realize they aren’t alone. Our words, especially in difficult situations, begin to carry so much more meaning and weight.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to be my kids’ leader and their rock. They are counting on me for that.

But, I also want to be relatable. I also want to be open and honest with them. Because I know they will trust me so much more when they realize I’ve been there and done that…the good and the bad.

I can’t give my son one second with my father, but I can give him the real me.

Give your kids the real you.

Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.

– Stephen

I'd like to hear from you! How do you stay real with your kids? Do you have a story about a time when sharing something personal helped your child? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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