One of my best friends, Bryan Pennebaker, passed away unexpectedly on February 15. He left behind his beautiful wife and three children. One of his daughters, Kate, wrote the following and it is so wonderful I thought I would share it with you.
Note: I am 26 years old and my dad suddenly passed away from a heart attack on February 15th, 2017. He left behind three children and a wife who is currently battling Stage 4 cancer. Despite these facts, we are all going to be OK because he was an amazing father. I want to share some things with other dads out there so their children can feel the peace and love that I have, despite my fathers’ sudden passing from this earth.
Dear Dads –
Tell your kids you love them. Every day. Even when you might not “like” them.
Tell them how proud you are of their accomplishments. Every day. Even when they might not have accomplished THAT much.
Hug them. Kiss them.
Coach their teams. At least once. If you aren’t a coach, show up to every single game, spelling bee, parent-teacher conference. Time is the biggest gift you have so give it to your family, even when work seems more important. I promise you, it isn’t.
Utilize tough love. Your job isn’t to make your kids happy every minute of every day. Your job is to teach them right from wrong, set high standards for what they need to accomplish, and perhaps instill a little fear in them. That fear is a good thing. I promise.
Love your wife openly. Hug her. Kiss her. Tell her you love her in front of your children. They might be “grossed out” but at the end of the day they will be happy to see that their parents are in love and that their father respects and cherishes their mother. This is important.
Valentine’s day isn’t just for your wife. Write your kids a note, give them a little present. They will always remember being their fathers Valentine.
Don’t be afraid to show your children that you are human. They want to know about your childhood, your experiences, your stance on current events, and even hear your bad jokes. In order for your kids to feel close to you, they need to feel like they truly know you. So, go ahead and let the wall down. Share things.
Plan for the future. If you are in the financial position, plan to pay for college and weddings and other life events. Money is by no means “everything” but it is an act of love to sacrifice your OWN purchases for the betterment of your children’s future. Set a good example by saving.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Plan family vacations. Whether it is the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, or a tent in your backyard — take you’re your children somewhere special. They will always cherish those memories.
One day your children will become “adults.” They will still need you just as much. Don’t forget that.
Take care of your health. Get check-ups. Listen to your body if something feels wrong. Most men avoid the doctor like the plague but take your health seriously. Others are depending on you.
Give everyone the respect and kindness that they deserve. Your kids will notice that you treat the mailman, the lady that cuts your hair, and your best friend all the same.
Tell your children, from the time that they can walk, that the world is theirs for the taking. Remind them that with hard work, discipline, and a little bit of luck, they can accomplish anything that they set their mind to.
In life, everyone searches for their “purpose” and wants to know how they can make their mark on the world. As a father, you can be a hero, a confidant, an advisor, and a friend. The gravity of your potential impact may not sink in, but I am telling you now, that a good father was the best thing that ever happened to my life. Don’t miss the opportunity to make your mark.