You think you're done with holiday gift giving, don't you?
But as we head into the new year, there's one important gift us dads and moms need to remember to share with our children in 2014.
Think "Velcro." Let me explain.
I like Velcro. It's a nifty invention, don't you think? Two strips of fabric -- one with hundreds and hundreds of tiny hooks, and the other with countless minuscule loops, each little filament, by itself, insignificant.
But press those two strips of fabric together and those unassuming hooks collectively catch all of those corresponding loops to create a connection that is strong and powerful. Use enough Velcro and you'll be hard-pressed to separate the bond.
I like that visual.
And it's one I keep in my head as I tackle my day-to-day fathering and the countless opportunities I have to connect with my kids -- one hook and loop at a time.
Somewhere along my dad journey, I've come to realize that being the father my kids need me to be isn't found in big, monumental gifts, "things" or even moments of their life. For sure, many of these big things matter. But they also can mask the true gifts we can give our kids.
I'm talking about the little things. The tiny connections we have the opportunity to make day-in and day-out with our children.
Like listening. With interest. Or setting down a project to look them square in the eyes. Saying "yes" to that last-minute errand they want to run -- realizing those moments will quickly be a thing of the past.
These connections can be found in the way we react, especially when we are navigating the tougher paths of family life. Do we show our children respect? Do we take time to think about what we say? Do we parent consciously and consider what is best for our child at the moment? Or do we let our own emotions rule?
I screw up as a dad with regularity. No reminders needed.
But I also know that my diligence in being aware of the daily "Velcro" moments has paid off over the years.
One-by-one, I've come to appreciate that those little, seemingly insignificant connections with my kids -- those hooks and loops -- have built a bond between each of my children and myself that is lasting. Creating a link that is nearly unbreakable. Even when I screw up.
When I listen without judgment. Velcro
When I make that special breakfast when it's the last thing I have time for or interest in. Velcro.
When I'm playful. Velcro.
When I sit down on the couch for 10 minutes and scratch a back. Rub some feet. Velcro bonus points.
When I point out strengths. And praise with sincerity.
When I volunteer to drive them and their pals around. And show interest in their friends.
The list is unending.
As are the countless hooks and loops in a long, long strip of Velcro.
I've had the good fortune of giving each of my children, throughout the course of their lives, many of those "big" things: A nice home, schools, vacations, clothing. Years ago, I thought those were the important things.
But life's handed me a few lessons.
At the top of that list is a reality check as to what my three children need most from me.
And that would be me.
They need me to be available to them -- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. That means I need to be conscious in my parenting. It means I need to have clear intent in what I do and how I do it. It means that I always need to be aware that I am the parent in whatever situation is at hand.
But most of all, at least for me, it means that I need to see the value in the myriad of every "hook and loop" opportunity that comes my way, creating our own strip of parent-child Velcro. And for this dad, that's the best gift I know to share with my children in the coming year.