Time to Reflect
At the end of the year, as we look forward to the next, I am reminded of the recommendation of Joe Ehrmann, former NFL player, author, pastor and coach. He tells us that men should take more time to reflect on their lives. He encourages us to regularly take inventory of who is important in our lives, then spend our time focusing on them. In Be There Dad terms, we should ask for whom do we need to be present.
The Sound of Music
During the holidays you can find the movie The Sound of Music airing somewhere on cable. Indeed, I found it just last week. Along with the wonderful music, awesome scenery and the eventual love story; this time with Mr. Erhmann’s advice in mind I focused on Captain Von Trapp to see what I might learn from this famous father. It turned out to be my year-end time for reflection
Most folks at least know the plot of this iconic story. Captain Von Trapp lost his way with his children. He imposed strict discipline, a dress code and relied on the household staff and a series of governesses to care for his seven children. He led the house like the ships he had commanded in the navy. While the Captain thinks he has the best interests of his children at heart, in fact he has forgotten the most important element of fatherhood. In a word, he has forgotten about the need for his presence.
But, soon a new young governess named Maria enters and helps him to reflect and refocus. When Maria teaches the children to sing together and they bring “the sound of music” back into the house, their father is reminded of the joy in being with his family. Through the simple act of singing, a dad re-engages with his children. Add a puppet show and some silly games and their relationships flourish once more.
Can we use the Captain as an example? The attention of dads frequently gets diverted for any number of reasons – pressure from work, a self-imposed need to earn more money and the never-ending household “to do list”. So, periodically we need to take a breath and evaluate.
Someone to Walk with Us
If we are willing to let them, there is someone who will hold our hand and help us recenter. In this case it was Maria. [Interestingly enough, as Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews helped another wayward dad find his way to fly a kite with his children Jane and Michael, too.]
Sometimes we have to be intentional. During our holiday family visits, we still work on jigsaw puzzles and play table games. We go on long walks with the dogs. We talk. We laugh. We tell old stories. Simple ways to assure that we stay engaged. Is there something you do as a family that rekindles your togetherness? What can we do to stimulate conversations? What do we do to assure we put the first thing first?
My Constant Reminder
When my son was about four years old, I found the following poem. My wife had it framed and gave it to me for Father’s Day. Ever since, it has hung in my office – amid a never ending flow of demands on my time – as a constant reminder of what is really important in my life.
My Little Boy’s Dad
I may never be as wealthy as some people I will meet
I may never have the fame that other men will have
But I’ve just got to be successful as my little boy’s dad
There are certain dreams I cherish that I’d like to see come true
There are things I’d like to accomplish before my working days are through
But the task my heart is set on is no passing fad
I’ve just got to be successful as my little boy’s dad
It’s the one job I dream of, the task I think of most
For if I fail my little boy, I have nothing else to boast
For all the wealth and fame I’d gather, my fortune would be sad
If I fail to be successful as my little boy’s dad
I may never come to glory, I may never gather gold
And men may count me as a failure when my business life is told
But if my little boy can just grow up Godly then I’ll be glad
‘Cause I’ll know I’ve been successful as my little boy’s dad.
Now is a good time for dads to reflect. How will we remain focused? Perhaps our new year’s resolutions should include simply, “Be There.”
Happy New Year!
P.S. Save the date. Without access to Maria or Mary Poppins, we have found that bringing dads together to share and reflect can be helpful in much the same way. So, on February 29, we will invite dads to gather for another Evening with Be There Dad. An opportunity to reflect and assess with the support – but not judgment – of other men. Details to follow soon.