Parenthood, specifically, fatherhood, has changed my life. The gift of a child and the responsibilities that go with that are enormous. No licensing, no permitting, no college degree required to become a father, yet, it is the most important role we will have in our lifetime. The gifts of friendship, faith and family that we pass on are so important as we shape the mind, character and thinking of our children.

Family: As a father I believe that parents must be there to set an example for their children, setting strong and positive role models of what to be and how to behave when the child grows up. Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating. Kids need good models more than they need critics. It is one of a parent’s greatest responsibilities and opportunities.

Friendship: We must work at friendship and never take it for granted. Friendship is giving and sharing of yourself. Treat friendship like the finest wine, valuable, powerful and enriching. Friendship is doing good things for each other. One of the greatest joys in life is helping a friend. You cannot have a fantastic day without helping a friend with no thought of getting something in return. When it comes to friendship, I remind myself what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.”

Faith: While I do not attend Sunday church with any regularity, I do believe that it is important for our children to pray for guidance and count and give thanks for our daily blessings. There’s no shame in praying for guidance. It is a sign of strength. So often we fail to acknowledge what we have because we’re so concerned about what we want. We fail to give thanks for the many blessings for which we did nothing. How much more pleasant would the world be if we treated our blessings in the same manner as we acknowledged our disappointments.

As I struggle to guide my son I hope he knows how much I definitely believe in God. I just hope that God believes in me and my methods of teaching the gifts of a lifetime.

JOHNNIE PERKINS

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