I’m not the best at knowing when and how to introduce deep topics into conversation. Like, I know my closest friends should know that I value our friendship; however, it’s not always the easiest thing to bring up.
“So, what did you think about the game last night?” “It was crazy, man!” “I know, right?! Anyways, I really value how you act like a role model to my kids…”
You see what I mean? Painful. But what better way is there to tell your closest friends and family some of the things you’ve always wanted to tell them than in an exceptionally well-crafted blog post such as this one (if I do say so myself)?
When people that I love, love on my kids, it means the world to me. Whether it's through gift-giving, talking with them, playing with them, or – for those without their own kids – figuring out how to interact with them, it touches me deeply.
I'm very cognizant of just how "unique" my own kids can be to other people, like my daughter's glass-shattering scream. I imagine that my friends also have a short list of their own kids' "unique" traits.
But to all of my friends, I want you to know that I think your kids are awesome. I fully believe in them, and see great things in them. And whenever you point out your kids' particular behaviors, I brush them aside because I know who they are is wonderful, just like their parents.
Notice that I didn't simply say, "Help!" I went with the full-fledged, cartoon-style scream for help. That's because us parents with young kids are always tired. And though we love our kids fiercely, we also love – and I mean LOVE – when you give us a break. Like today, when my sister and mom watched our kids so my wife and I could go ride the Haunted Mansion in another part of the park together. That was pure gold.
When both of my kids were born, my in-laws stayed with us for two weeks each time. But they didn't just stay with us, they did EVERYTHING for us. They cooked meals for us, they did our laundry, they cleaned our house... They did so much for us that I'm at a complete loss as to how I can thank them. Although my words feel cheap, I know it's at least a start.
And that’s why I start with thank you. Even if I'm not able to convey the depths of my emotion through my voice, please PLEASE know that I'm sincerely and deeply thankful for what you've done, even when it’s doing things much smaller than staying with us for two weeks.
There's something meaningful about hearing another dad talk about his own dad issues or talking with another parent who expresses similar marital stresses to the ones my wife and I feel.
Whenever one of my friends is real with me and trusting enough to open up about issues he's facing, my own guard comes down. I feel less stressed about the struggles I face, and I feel more connected and less alone in the world.
If I’m honest, watching your kid do something better than my own may be hard for me sometimes, but I will always celebrate your kid's successes. I can't promise that I will never compare our children – try as I might to avoid doing so – but I will never judge your kid for performing worse than my own. I will always strive to recognize that each child is on his own path.
Though you might not know it, my kids watch what you do. They watch how you interact with your own children, your spouse, and with me and they take note. I imagine that one day, when my kids are teenagers, they won't want to listen to whatever it is I'll have to say, but I know that they might have clearer ears and eyes to hear and see you with. Thank you for being good people and role models for my children.
Having a friends’ night out is more important than you know for keeping me and my wife sane. We need those times to talk about how crazy our kids are and, at the same time, not talk about anything remotely kid-related. You help keep us sane.
We worry about our kids probably more than we’re supposed to. We would love your extra set of eyes and thoughts about keeping our kids safe. Whether it's making sure they have sunscreen or holding their hand when they’re near the pool, we need and fully appreciate all the help we can get.
I know our schedules and limitations with the kids can be crazy, inconvenient and, probably, somewhat frustrating. Thank you for accommodating us and our kids.
What am I missing? What would you like to say to your family and friends but haven't quite figured out how or when? Give it a try in the comments below.