Due to the level of family break-ups and divorce, more and more people today are being raised without the consistent influence of a good father. Many children are fortunate if they get to see their father every-other weekend. As I meet people who have grown up under these circumstances, my gratitude continues to grow for the fact that I had the blessed experience of being raised with my biological father not only in my home, but also as an active influence in my life.
My fondest memories of childhood are those hours I spent sitting on the couch with my father as he taught me how to read and how to do math problems or just asked my opinion on things. Although my father has his flaws, just like any mortal man would, I don't think I could have had a better father. I'd like to discuss 7 gifts my father gave that money cannot buy and nothing can replace - 7 gifts that made me who I am today - 7 gifts which I believe would cure a multitude of ills in our society.
My father spent hours with me teaching me, talking with me, and listening to me. It seemed as if we were inseparable. As a child I felt he belonged just to me because I got all the attention I needed.
All those nights he spent tickling my belly, playing his harmonica or singing to me until I fell asleep are indelibly imprinted in my mind. As a child I felt incredibly loved, incredibly cared for. This foundation of affection built security, stability and trust in the most formative years of my life. Even at age 16, I remember my dad coming in my room when I had my friends over and he'd chat with us for a few minutes. As he'd leave I'd give him a kiss on his cheek. I remember one friend saying, ''You have such a great dad!'' Even then, I knew I did.
A Love of Learning
As I mentioned earlier, my dad spent many hours teaching me how to read and do math. As young as the age of 3, he had me reading the newspaper. He used to say he could give me anything to learn and I'd learn it - no questions asked. He said if he'd handed me a telephone book and said, ''Memorize this'' I would have done it. I believe this is largely due to the love, confidence and trust I had in my father. Whatever he thought was worth learning, I knew must be worthwhile and even fun.
My dad actually raised me to be a bit of a show off and a ham-bone. He was so thrilled that I could read and do math tricks that he had me show them to everyone who came to the house. And of course, a young child is going to be on cloud nine when everyone starts ooh-ing and awe-ing over how smart she is. What confidence that built! To this day, I still have this compelling urge to take what I've learned and share it with others. And I largely attribute that level of confidence - the confidence to even think anything I'd have to say would be worthwhile to someone else - to my father's influence. So now you know who to blame for my verbosity.
My father had this habit of asking questions of us children. He'd ask me, ''Marnie, would you rather be the smartest girl in school or the prettiest girl in school?'' Whatever I said was ok, but whenever I gave the better answer, he'd say, ''You know, I think you're right. I think you're onto something there.'' Our opinions were always valued and never belittled - even if they weren't exactly what he wanted to hear. But he always subtly reinforced the opinions we had that were sound and worthwhile. My father truly believes that children are smarter than most adults are. He honestly valued our opinions. This kind of unconditional respect enabled me to think for myself. I had literally no desire to conform to the crowd as a child or teenager. I virtually did not even know the meaning of the term ''peer pressure.'' This gift of independent thinking allowed me to stand up for what was right even when it may have been unpopular.
My dad trusted us implicitly. If we were out at night, he only asked that we call in if we were going to be late so that he wouldn't worry that we had been in a car wreck. He trusted us to do the right thing, and because we knew he trusted us, we would never want to let him down.
Love of Country and Freedom
My father is a true patriot, a friend to freedom. He taught us to love and understand the Constitution of the United States and instilled in us the ability to determine which laws or candidates were constitutionally sound and those that were not. He sees freedom as our most treasured gift from God, and taught us that freedom is protected and fostered when we make right choices and give other people that same freedom. We cannot build our own freedom by taking away the freedom of another individual.
I am convinced if every child had a father who gave her these 7 gifts, many problems would be solved in our society. I myself have fallen woefully short in passing these gifts on to my own children. Yet the older I get and the more I learn about the problems faced by individuals in our society, the more I can trace my happiness and success in life back to these seven priceless gifts. I just hope it is not too late for me to start passing them on to my own children.
About the AuthorMarnie Pehrson is a wife and mother of soon-to-be 6 children, an Internet consultant, writer & creator of SheLovesGod.com, IdeaMarketers.com, Ads4Homes.com, and Pros-n-Cons.com. Her projects may be reached from www.pwgroup.com.