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A Father’s Promises

June 16, 2016 | by Rabbi Dr. Jerry Lob

A reminder for fathers everywhere.

I will remember that I am your father and that I love you.

I will remember that you are a child.

I will find ways to show you that you are loved. I will say “I love you” more often and I will express it in other ways as well, perhaps with touch, tone of voice, smile, look on my face, and by giving of my time.

I will not degrade you, laugh at you, or ridicule you in any way.

I will say “I am sorry” when I’m wrong.

I will criticize less and focus more often on the positives in you.

I will look for the big picture, keep perspective, and keep my eyes on the prize – the prize of a loving, caring, joyful relationship with you.

I will remember that you are fragile, that my words and tone of voice can damage and slice through you, that you are soft even when you act hard. I will not be fooled when you act uncaring. I know different and I will remember.

I will tell you directly and assertively when I disagree with you, but not in a rage, and not with sarcasm, and with no eye rolling.

I will not hit you, no matter what. I will remember the words of Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, of blessed memory, that in this era it is prohibited to hit our children, that it will lead to their hatred.

I will smile more.

I will be more open to feel joy about you, to revel in your very existence. And I will display this joy more often.

I will respect you. I will respect your feelings, your need for space and privacy. I will respect your dignity. I will respect your opinions and your decisions, though at times I may overrule them (in your younger years).

I will be more patient. I will be more patient. I will be more patient.

I will set appropriate boundaries for you, for your safety, for your growth, for your spiritual growth, and I will not shirk my responsibility. And I will remember that it’s okay for you to be upset with me. I do this out of love.

I will remember that you are a work in progress, not a finished product, and while your pronouncements may sound secure, confident, finished, they’re not. I will patiently wait for you, with anticipation and some trepidation, through your journey.

I will choose my battles and try to remember that the battles themselves are not personal, but part of the miracle of your growth. And I will learn to bite my tongue more.

I will be more loving to Mommy and always respectful to her. I will remember the look on your face when I’ve said something hurtful to her. I will make more effort to bring joy into our family, to bring to our home a spirit of song.

I will remember that no matter your age, you still look to me (as I look to my father), and what is important is not so much the information I impart to you, but who I am to you.

I will not take revenge when I am hurt. Even if you have intentionally hurt me and even if I am so angry, so very angry, I will not respond in kind. I will remember that I am the parent and you are the child. I will try to find quiet and calm. I will not give you the silent treatment, either. I will ask for your apology, but I will not take revenge.

I will laugh more with you. At times I will try to laugh at myself.

I will play more with you. I will give you your own time with me every day even if only for a few minutes.

I will learn more with you. And I will try to make this time warm and joyous and not full of tension and anger.

I will be determined to be proud of you. I will see your inner beauty, not your grades or how you look, but your neshama, your goodness, your kindness, your unique strengths, skills, and talents. I will remember that each child is different and may have a different path. I will love you because you are, not because you do. And not because of what you give to me.

I will attempt to bring more joy into Shabbos and Yom Tov and into Judaism. I will remember that it is my joy in Torah and mitzvot that will draw you to them, my enthusiasm that will generate yours, and it is my love of God that will deepen your love of God.

I will take an interest in your life. If you share it with me, I will feel joy in your joys and sadness in your sorrows. I will not make light of your reactions. I will take you seriously. I will be available for you and will be respectful if you choose not to share.

I will not look at you with disgust. I will not call you names. You are my child.

I will not try to break your spirit. I will try to embrace, celebrate and guide your spirit.

I will not ignore your suffering. I will put aside my work and my tiredness and my volunteer work and even my learning to be there for you, whenever you need me. You are my priority.

I will look deep into myself and remember how painful childhood and adolescence can be, and I will honor you and support you. I will not abandon you when you need me most, even when it feels like you are pushing me away.

I will remember that I am your father and that I love you.

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