Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Letter to a dad...

This is a rough draft - first typing, but would enjoy your thoughts and comments. 

Dear My Earthly Father,
I do not use your first name with disrespect, but the opposite, I use it with the intention of great respect. I am not writing to you as your son for that relationship has passed, but I am writing to you as a parent, a parent of children we love and cherish.
We both share being a son to a mother and a father, but we don't share the same experiences, but as parents, we do, thus if in reading this letter your perspective of what I write is the same as yours, as a concerned and loving parent, then I think what I am to say will be received in the tone, perspective, of my intent.
Firstly, I love you with all my heart and all my strength, not just as a loving carrying parent, but also as a child of God. Being a parent is probably the most challenging role imaginable. I feel such a great burden of responsibility to my children, to their outcome. How will they reflect on me now, tomorrow, in the future and as adults and parents themselves? How everything I do and say effect them and those things I do and say, are they because I am being selfish or am I truly looking out for their good?
You may share these very same questions. I have realized when my children are young, I pas the message to my children primarily with love. Love being unconditional, unattached to what they say or do, but a gift of love pure is transferred with a hug, a soft voice, a kiss, a gesture.
I have also found as my children grow in intellect, they can and will question my love, my devotion, my honesty, my truth. I feel so broken when they do not listen, they question my intent and even directly go against what I have told them is the truth. I have to admit, it was not until one of my children challenged me and was willing to be honest with me did this revelation take place. She was capable of showing me fallacies in my logic, intentions, and inconsistencies in my behavior. I cherish this child for the reflection and honesty.  
Never did I ever have any forethought to my intentions and I always thought they were pure, but I realized, I did have inconsistencies  
Truthfully, as she grew into more independence, I felt threatened that my value to her was nothing. What could I give her, teach her, how could I be an influence, a positive force on her life? I realized that even though I was teaching or telling, to my children that independence was the proper way to move forward in life. It did have a threatening appeal on me as a parent, a value, for me as a person. If they do not need me for guidance, for my wisdom, than what is my purpose? Again, I am sharing with you my experiences as a parent, the same thing we definitely share and have in common we are both parents.
Not being around my children as I once was left me with an incredible feeling of emptiness. I thought about this emptiness, something I never felt before. I realized I based my feelings of value and existence based on my relationship with my children. I wondered how many other parents do this and it is was healthy. I have listened to many people on TV, Radio, read in magazines, newspaper, news, about marriages breaking up when a young child dies, or even after many years of marriages, the couple found they had no relationship; they simply had connected through a mutual relationship, their kids.
As I stood back and evaluated this dependence, I asked myself, can I force my children to like me, follow my 'Wisdom', come to me for advice, make ME feel important and valuable? I realized the best I could be for them is to be there for them, always no matter what. And to help them find their own answers to life, to be independent
I think we have talked, read, and discussed many times, about the challenge of parenting knowing when to let go. And the challenge of letting go, I have found requires two (2) beliefs. Firstly, as parents, I have done a good enough job to trust my child will do well solo. Secondly, the outcome of their life does not rest on my shoulders. Ok, a third belief; Once I let go, is it for me to intervene when I think they are of track or simply help them through the challenge? A little bit like a young boy or girl riding their bikes, now and again, they are stuck and cannot push the peddle forward. I do not pedal the bike for them; I just give them the necessary support to get going again.
I read a book "Discipline With Love and Logic" it related a child at thirteen (13) should be ready to be independent. They cannot provide for themselves because of the laws, but they should be ready to make decisions for themselves witch means to me as a parent, around thirteen, years of age is when I have to get out of there way and what is funny and the opposite of what I once thought, is it not the child that needs me, is it really that I need the child. Thus, this brought me back to the realization that when I was not with my children, why did I have such a feeling of emptiness, yet the children seemed to be fine.
I realized I was in the boat with so many other parents; I then went back to my questions. Why did I feel the necessity to be so involved in their lives? They have an independent life, when I am not with them, should I not have an independent life too? 
Thus my next question. Why do I feel this need? I already revealed one reason, which is I banked my value of a human being a father based on what I perceived my children's dependency on me was. Then, for me not to have this feeling what is it I need to do or not do in order for me to allow my children to grow, as they should without my interference?
Firstly, I had to decide I had a life outside my children; my sole role in life was not to be a dad to my kids. Then I had to realize at the same moment in time, I had to believe I have done the best I could to make sure they will survive on their own. Moreover, what if I disappeared from their lives today what would I want to leave them with what if anything would be of value that might last a time?
Here is what I came up with. What is unique, this is the same list I had many years ago, but as many of us parents do, my personal value was mixed in and this polluted my thinking.  
First: it is not as important what I give my children in regards to what I think is important; it is showing them what is important through my behavior and attitude. For example; Jesus Christ not only spoke of how to live, he demonstrated it or backed it with is attitude and actions. Thus, the most important thing I believe I could give my children is love. If I had to end my connection with my children today, would each of them be left with a feeling I loved them?
Second: How to survive the hard times. For each even we go through, we can get coaching, consulting, counseling, but the root of getting through life's challenges is with a foundation of faith. I can tell them about faith, but what is strongest is demonstrating it. Did I crumble when times were tough? Did I talk strong but act week, did I hold my head high no matter how bleak the circumstances?
When I think of leaving my children with the best gifts, ones they can keep and use at their own discrepancy, I hope internalize them. I think of the late Randy Pausch, he is the author of the book "The Last Lecture." He did not have the luxury of philosophizing about what he wants to leave his children, he was dying of an incurable cancer, and he had to make his plans now. Therefore, as I think about the things I can give my children, which are gifts they can use in their life:
First on the list would be unconditional love.
Second, to have faith in themselves, that faith will carry them through the tough times, faith based in their belief and love of Jesus Christ.
Third: Hope, hope I demonstrated
Faith well enough for them to follow, or at least well enough to know where and how to get more of it, if needed. In that hope as well, I hope I demonstrated the courage to be honest and have integrity and to be self-responsible. Above all of these, because this is where the above comes from, is I hope each of my children find Jesus Christ and invite him to be a part of their lives. Each one will do this in their own way at their own time, but I hope each des. When someone asks them, where did he get is strength, I hope each will say from Jesus Christ!
I believe in all my children. I believe in them because I believe I have been able to give them the love, demonstrate it as well as show them faith, hope, honesty and integrity. I trust they will live the best lives they can, I believe they know enough, to understand the gifts I have hopefully passed to them. They know of my commitment to Jesus Christ, they know my strength as come from him, by inviting him into my life and having a life, which glorifies God, to have unconditional love to all people and all things, and to demonstrate faith and courage through Jesus Christ and inspire hope when one feels lost.
My hope is to be around for many, many more years, I hope to see all my children blossom into wonder flowers, into the best people then can be. I hope to be able to say, I have grandchildren, but mostly, I hope my children want to include me in their lives, not because of obligation, not because I am their dad with great wisdom and knowledge and they need me, but because of what I bring to the relationship. In addition, when I get old (very old), they will love regardless. But, mostly they love me as unconditionally as Jesus Christ loves me and I hope, have loved them.
If I had to leave this earth today, I hope my children will live lives that will Glorify God. I would leave this earth, putting them in God's hands knowing he will take care of them. I have met so many people that apparently have it all that lost it all, and I have met so many people that seemed like they lost their souls, yet to have found them through Jesus Christ.
My dad, time has passed where my father is no longer the father. I was born too, I have been reborn into a new life and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, and he now is my Father, my Father in heaven. For I am no longer your son, I am your equal, a parent, a friend, a person that wants the best for my personal family, but for all and I hope and pray, you invite Jesus Christ to be your personal savior and become an intimate part of your life. I say this not because I want to change you, far from it, I say this because I love and I want the same great things for you as I have experience through my relationship with Jesus Christ.
I have a friend, I am not sure of his motive all the time, but that probably is more me than him, but I never questioned his heart or his integrity. In a surprise for my birthday in 1981, he bought me my first Bible ever and was the only Bible I ever had until 2006. I never realized what an incredible gift receiving a Bible is. As I have learned, the heart, soul and teachings of Jesus Christ is Love and the gift of the life hereafter, this person offered me the most precious gift, a gift of love and life. God loves us all, regardless of how we judge each other, each person deserves to have the same opportunity to have a relationship with God, and they just need to be open to it.
Since I have started my relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I understand what a gift of love the Bible offers, thus have bought a Bible for my family and extended family, I even have one for you.
I end this letter with my favorite prayer:
Mt 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray: 
  “ ‘Our Father in heaven, 
  Hallowed be your name, 
  Mt 6:10 your kingdom o come, 
  Your will be done p  
  On earth as it is in heaven. 
  Mt 6:11 Give us today our daily bread.  
  Mt 6:12 Forgive us our debts, 
  As we also have forgiven our debtors. 
  Mt 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, s  
  But deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. 
I forgive you my father for all sins I perceived were against me, I pray you will find even greater peace in your life. And if we can again find that common element which allows us to be willingly and lovingly a positive part of each other’s life, I pray we invite the other to do so.
Remember: "The bond that links your true family is not of blood, but of respect, and joy in each other's life" Richard Bach - Illusions.
Leland Bartlett

1 comment:

  1. Wow!!!!!
    What Insight you have my Cuz.