I remember a fall morning, driving with my grandparents and my father to go visit my great-grandmother in the nursing home she had been newly transplanted to. We passed a sprawling stone mansion, covered in ivy, with stained glass windows. It was a castle and I had to have it. In the next minute, my dad would give me the greatest gift a dad can give his children. Being a parent may be hard, but when it is done right, it makes all the difference.
“That’s going to be my house one day,” I announced with the complete certainty of a child (it’s a shame that we sometimes lose that as we age).
“Well you better go into business, and work for a good company,” my grandfather said.
“Nope. You’re smarter than that,” my father, who rarely challenges my grandfather, even today, spoke up from the front seat.
At the next red light he turned to look back at me and said, “Don’t work to make someone else rich. Work for yourself.”
It’s a moment that will stick with me for the rest of my life, because from that young age, I knew he had my back in the biggest way possible.
He believed in my work ethic and my ability to build my own empire. There truly is no greater gift that you can give a child — dusting them off when they doubt themselves, and reminding them of the potential and promise they hold to become anything they want, as long as they are willing to work for it.
Allowing them to see themselves the way that you see them.
I forgot about my goals and dreams when marriage and kids came into play, but when the business world became too much and I wasn’t seeing my kids as much as I wanted to, I headed back down the path I was meant for. I resigned from my job and my wife and I started a business. While many parents would’ve roared or thrown things, my father didn’t even blink.
“Get to work,” he said, when I called him to tell him the news. “Remember,” he said “It’s going to be hard! That means it’s worth it!”
My father is also an entrepreneur, and when he saw me going down the same road, he was beyond proud. He still loves to talk shop and suggest the best way to deal with certain situations as they arise, and I love that we can share that common bond. It taught me to do the same with my kids. If they see a dream that the rest of us think is hard, we need to tell them to go for it.
Our kids have nothing if they don’t have the love and support of a parent. With that, they can do anything. Think about when we tell our kids that they did a great job or that they worked hard. Aren’t they just beaming with pride? Don’t they try harder? As parents, we have that ability… to encourage that kind of attitude every single day in our kids.
This is one of the biggest things about parenting that I have learned from my father, and one of his traits I hope to mimic with my own children—truly hearing what they are interested in and need out of life, and being there to support it, and them, in any way I can.
When those sails start to fall flat I want to be there to help pull them up for the wind to embrace. I want my children to know that I will always be their biggest fan and advocate. Well, next to their grandfather, of course.