By Dan Coulter
I was awake most of the night last night –- lying in bed thinking about being a dad. And thinking about two truths: It’s tough being a dad. It’s great being a dad.
It’s easy to get caught up in the first truth, especially if you have a child with problems or special needs. But the second truth is where all the fun is – and where you find the power to be the father your kids want and need.
The first truth is never going to go away. But when you focus on it, spending time with your kids is an obligation. The second truth is more powerful. It’s what you feel after the birth of your child. It’s what you know when you look at that tiny face and see all the positive possibilities. It’s what you understand when you first make your baby laugh.
We all have ups and downs as dads. But if you could, wouldn’t you lock yourself in the great moments? The times when your kids think you’re the best dad in the world? Dad the Incomparable, Lord High Protector and Benevolent Fun Machine! The guy who gets mobbed by a blur of childish joy when he hits the door and hears, “Daddy!!!”
I found a way. Look at a picture.
It’s that simple.
Go around the house and search through the pictures you have of your child. Check the photo box in the closet. Search the JPGs you have stored on your computer. Find one that freezes time and brings back everything you felt and promised him when he was a baby; when she was a toddler. If there’s more than one of your kids in the picture, or you have a picture of each, that’s great.
Put the picture you choose in your wallet or a plastic protector. Or load it onto your cell phone. Take out the picture and look at it once an hour. Everyday.
It puts things in perspective. It can help you hold your daughter’s face in your mind to ease tense times at work. It can make you eager to get home to spend time with your son. It can make you more patient when you’re dealing with your kids and help you really listen when they talk.
It can help you stop and think before you criticize your son, “Is this the way I want him to remember me the rest of his life?” That small picture can help you see the big picture. If you treat every contact with your child as one that might stand out in his mind as he grows up, will you treat him differently? The picture can help you do things the way you really want to do them anyway -- and make your kids want to always try their hardest to make their dad proud.
It usually takes something big to change our lives. But sometimes, we can change our own lives with little things, like looking at a picture.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter is the writer/producer of the video: “Asperger Syndrome for Dads: Becoming An Even Better Father To Your Child With AS.” You can find additional articles on his website at: coultervideo.com.
Copyright Dan Coulter 2004 (Revised 2013) Used by Permission All Rights Reserved