My dad taught me a lot of things. He taught me the importance of getting up early to start the day off right with scripture, prayer, and exercise. He taught me that you can come from a rough background with few words of affirmation and still choose to be a loving, kind person to others.
My dad taught me how to dribble a basketball, how to whistle with a blade of grass, and how to make a killer tuna fish sandwich. But one of the most important lessons I learned from him occurred when he didn’t even intend to teach me one.
It was during my teenage years. I had just come home from a long and difficult day at work, and I sunk exhausted on the rocking chair in the living room to take a nap. My mind was heavy with the stresses, insecurities, and pressures that are not uncommon to most teenage girls.
As I started to fall asleep, I thought I heard footsteps approaching me on the carpet. A moment later, my dad gently kissed my forehead, unaware that I was still awake. His action wasn’t intended to be seen by others or to even be noticed by me. But his simple and quiet act of love had a profound effect on me as a teenage girl and helped me realize that the smallest acts of kindness often mean the most.
What he didn’t see as he walked quietly away from the rocking chair were the tears pooling up behind my closed eyelids. It turned out that a tender forehead kiss from a loving father was exactly what my troubled heart needed at that moment. It was such a small thing, but it meant more to me than he could have ever known.
Dads, you don’t have to live up to unrealistic expectations or try to be the “perfect dad.” The truth is, it doesn’t take a lot to become a hero in the eyes of your children. I never cared that my dad wasn’t wealthy and couldn’t buy us expensive things or take us on expensive vacations.
I did care, though, that he took the time to have tickle fights with us and invite us to come with him to take the dog for a walk. I cared that he would watch silly cartoons with us and laugh just as hard as we did. I cared that he would try to play card games with us, even though he absolutely hated card games.
All it really takes to be a good dad is to spend time with your kids, love them, and teach them by example how to be good humans.
Dads like that are getting harder to come by. So this Father’s Day, I want to thank all the kind, hard-working, wise dads who understand the honor and responsibility that comes with the title of fatherhood.
You’re making a difference, even when you think no one notices. (Peterson is a Serve Daily contributor.)