By Ty Phillips
As a parent, there is no end to the knowledge and love that I want you to carry into your life and relationships. It’s hard to break any of these myriad pearls of fatherly over-protectiveness and concern into five primary wishes that I have for you, but try I must.
I love you.
Before anything else in life, it is imperative that our children know how much we love them. I hear adults tell me all the time that they went years without ever hearing their parents say that they loved them. I don’t think that there is a more profound influence on our children than the sense of security and self worth they will receive from knowing without doubt, that their parents love them.
Yes, you will make mistakes.
Yes, you irritate me at times. We have argued and I will love you always, regardless. Mistakes are made by all of us. All of us make terrible decisions that we will come to regret and so will you. Through this however, you need to know that love—my love—is unconditional.
Children will always look to the eyes of their parents for approval. Sadly, so often they feel they have failed. They have not lived up to the expectations their parents have set for them to be this kind of son or that kind of daughter.
This little boy wants a doll and dad gets upset. He isn’t raising no fag. A little girl wants to play with trucks and ‘boy things’ but the pastor at church said, “I have to stomp out that lesbian spirit in my daughter and make her conform to femininity as I see it.”
Those two issues are just the normal. Dad loves sports, kids love science. Dad loves to read, kids love to not read. All we can do is encourage them and love them. They look to us for their sense of self—their sense of personal value—just as we did to our parents.
I want you to know that no matter what you choose to be or what you want to play with, I will be there for you.
As you grow up, you will fall in love. You will have your heart broken and you will fall in love again. It will seem as if the world rises and falls with your first loves and hopefully one day, that great and lasting love will make you feel the same way.
What I want you to know is that you can define yourself. Make sure that you are loved for who you are not who someone wants you to be.
Have your own hobbies, your own goals, your own passions. If they want to join you, that’s great, but don’t feel the need to remake who you are in order to conform to a set standard of what that person wants.
Love is not physical attraction; its foundation is respect.
Their love is real when who you are is cherished; when your opinions and desires matter just as much as their own. Be a partner by first being an individual.
There is never a time when control is okay; when your friends, your job, your faith or lack of, is chosen for you. Defining who you are, means that the decision for you are made by you. Your dress, your body, your boundaries are yours and yours alone.
Be Open to Mistakes
I never want to see you hurting, but I will be happy to see you fail. Not because I don’t want to see you succeed but because I know you are trying.
Don’t be afraid to take that risk, to make that plunge into the unknown. We all falter, we all fail, but what makes you who you are is how often you keep moving forward.
Whether you want my help, you will always have it. Know, that when you are down, I will encourage you, when you are up. I will praise you and when you reach out.
I will always be there to lift you.
My mistakes have not defined me and they will not define you, no matter how much others may want them to. You will be defined by what you choose to learn from those mistakes. The mistakes I made brought me to this point in my life. I will not judge you for yours.
Be open to others
In the beginning I told you that I will always love you. What I want you to know is that we grow by loving others. Our success is not defined in what we have gained but in who we have helped. You can succeed by being honest, by being compassionate and by having open arms for all those who need.
This does not mean that you falter over and over in your own life, but that you love yourself enough to be able to truly help others. Your strength will shine for your family, your friends and for those in need.
Don’t ever feel that you cannot offer a smile, a kind word or a piece of advice; but also don’t forget that you can say no.
You will be who you need to be and if I can see you carry anything on, it is that you love those in need as I have loved you.
Editor: Dana Gornall