Appreciating a Parent’s Love 731.4

While window-shopping in New York City, I saw an old gold watch that reminded me of one my father gave me when I graduated from college. It had been engraved with the simple inscription “Love, Dad.” But it was stolen during a burglary years ago, and I hadn’t thought much of it or the inscription since.

I always knew my dad loved me. I took it for granted. He was supposed to. I was his son. I’m always a bit shocked when I run into people who have had a different experience. The truth is, not all dads love their kids, and those who do don’t always express it. I had no idea how lucky I was.

Until I became a father myself, I had no way of understanding the depth and intensity of his feelings and the emotional investment he had in my happiness. I couldn’t imagine how much it must have hurt him when I was cut from my baseball team or dumped by my first girlfriend, or how proud he’d be today seeing me become the kind of father he taught me to be.

I always assumed I loved my dad and he knew it, but the truth is, my love was shallow and unexplored. I never came close to feeling or expressing gratitude for all the ways he made my childhood safe, comfortable, and fun. I wish I had given him that gift.

Of course, my dad wasn’t perfect. He had flaws like everyone else. It’s so easy to overweigh our parents’ shortcomings, underweigh their virtues, and undervalue their love.

What’s not easy is experiencing and expressing gratitude while it still matters.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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Comments 3

  1. You’re right on with this one! My Dad passed away a few years ago as he neared his 90th birthday. It took me a long time to realize that I should have told him more often that I loved him, but I took every opportunity in his later years and that was the last thing I ever said to him.

  2. As an educator I see too often the effects of missing fathers or fathers who do not know how to show love. It has made me aware of how important fathers are, and I ache when I see fathers abdicate their roles and responsibilities. So for every father who is there, present in the moment, loving and guiding their children, let me say thank you. You are making a lifetime of difference for which there is no scale large enough to measure.

  3. I happen to resent the way i was raised. My father’s idea of parenting was a belt or a backhand. I feared him, and would have never asked his advice. Now being around him irritates me and I can’t understand his hypocritical words/actions. All 3 of my kids still like to be around me, even the college age girl!

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