It’s fair to say I am moderately handy. I’m not the kind of guy that can do any kind of project around the house, but I know how to do a few things. I’m thankful for this skill since it tends to save our family money when I’m able to fix things, build things or paint things.
But even more important, I’m thankful the way I learned to do the things that I do. Whether it’s fixing a broken window or knocking out a wall in our kitchen, in each case I’m reminded of my dad. I didn’t learn how to do these things in a vacuum or by watching YouTube videos (though I have watched my share). I learned how to do these things as a boy by going with my father on service calls for properties that he owned.
My parents split up when I was seven years old, and I missed a lot of important and valuable things that most kids get when their parents stay together. But I still saw my dad fairly regularly, and during those times we were always working. (I have to admit that there was a part of me that would have preferred to spend time with him doing other things, but in most cases, I absolutely loved being by his side, even if that meant doing odd jobs!)
Never in a million years would I have thought that I’d one day be handy enough to do projects around my own house. I just cherished being with him and loved his pouring into me and teaching me. And now almost every time I pick up a hammer, I think about my dad.
I’m a dad now, and I love it. I do the same kinds of projects that my dad did with me, but I often fail to include my boys the way he did with me. As I reflect on this, I realize that neglecting this prevents my boys from learning how to do things, and prevents them from having the same fond memories with me that I now have of time with my dad. I can do better, and fortunately my boys are now old enough that they want to learn. I look forward to the years ahead of us!
But what about you? Perhaps you are handy as well. Perhaps you are not. Either way, you have something you do well, and your kids have a lot to learn from you. We all have something to pass on: skills, knowledge, habits, etc. But most importantly, we have a life to live with them and memories to make.
Children need their parents. That has always been the case, but perhaps they need us more now than ever. Let’s be sure to give them everything we have to give.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jamie Dew is president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)