Updated June 2021!
A short list of Father’s Day stories, videos songs and activities for children that will help kids fully appreciate Dad and all that he is and does.
Activities and Coloring Pages
By Keith Phillips, former editor of Activated! magazine
Growing up, the last thing I expected to become was an editor. For starters, I was a miserable student—"miserable" in both senses of the word. From almost the first day of first grade, I struggled to keep up with the class, and language was never one of my better subjects—at least not until tenth grade. The difference-maker then was my dad.
He had been an Army war correspondent during WWII and then a newspaper reporter for several years. He had changed careers in order to better support his growing family, but journalism was in his bones. When he offered to type one of my handwritten tenth grade papers and saw how utterly clueless I was about writing, he clicked into gear. And when he explained what needed fixing and why, things started clicking for me.
Over the next couple of years my English grades improved, which gave my sagging self-confidence a boost, which helped me pull up my grades in other subjects. It would be another 25 years before I tried to do anything more with what Dad had taught me, but when I did, much to my surprise, I discovered that his passion for pushing words around a page had been contagious. So here I am, thanks in large part to my dad, doing what I now love to do, as part of a close and talented team, for a God I love and a publication I believe in. Who could ask for more?
That's my story and that's my dad. The two seem inseparable now, and I think that's the way God means for it to be. Good fathers help make us who we are. They are one of His special gifts, and fatherhood is one of His special callings.
Photo: Pat Belanger via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license.
I'm Only Human
By a father of three exceptional children
I have been a special needs parent for over a decade and something that I learned along the way is that despite my very best efforts, at the end of the day, I’m only human. I get frustrated, overwhelmed, and on occasion say and do the wrong thing.
One of the things that happens quite often to special needs parents is that the demand on us simply exceeds the resources we have available, be it emotional, physical, or financial. This demand is constant in many cases, and the strain over time becomes more and more difficult to carry. The stress can really take its toll.
I feel that as special needs parents, we often don’t give ourselves enough credit or cut ourselves enough slack. Speaking for myself only, I have a tendency to be overly critical of myself, especially when I feel I’m failing at something, which is honestly, quite often. However, in reality, I’m failing to remember that I’m doing or trying to do things every day that most people simply couldn’t handle. We tend to become so accustomed to everything that we often focus more on our perceived losses or defeats than we do on our successes and victories.
One of the things that I have always encouraged people to do is share their feelings. Venting, or expressing what we are going through, is something that is extremely important in special needs parenting. Again, speaking only for myself, I’m under constant and unforgiving pressure. These pressures can range from health or behavioral issues to simply trying to make ends meet. Some of this pressure I put on myself, but most of it is inherent to special needs parenting in general.
There are times that my kids drive me crazy and I swear that my head is going to explode. For a long time this was like a double-edged sword. I would be so incredibly stressed out, overwhelmed, and frustrated. On top of that, I would feel an extreme sense of guilt for being stressed out, overwhelmed, and frustrated. The kids had no control over most of their behaviors, but I had this idea that, as their father, I was supposed to have this never-ending supply of patience. Instead I was always “a day late and a dollar short.”
There were times that I was so far gone that I would go through a drive-thru to pick up dinner and when asked, “Can I take your order?”, I would answer, “I’ll take some sanity with a side order of patience and some peace and quiet for desert…oh…and…supersize that.” Apparently, this kind of stuff is not on the menu…anywhere! Trust me, I’ve tried everywhere. You can ask my wife. She was always mortified when I would place my order.
Then one day, it hit me. I’m not sure how or why this happened, but I realized that I didn’t have to feel guilty for being frustrated, overwhelmed, and stressed out by my kids or their behavior. I guess I had felt like if I admitted that I was frustrated or overwhelmed by the challenges associated with raising three boys with special needs, that it somehow reflected poorly on them, or that I loved them less. I didn’t want anyone to think that about my kids because, while challenging, they are totally awesome, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
Admitting frustration with those challenges, or even with any or all of my kids, doesn’t mean they are bad and it certainly doesn’t mean that I somehow love them any less. What admitting this did mean however, was that I was human. I learned that not only was it normal to feel these things, but it was also healthy. This was such a powerful realization for me, and it changed my perspective considerably. I discovered that acknowledging these feelings, and even embracing them, provided a much-needed sense of relief. The relief really kicked in when I became comfortable enough with these feelings to not only admit them to myself, but share them publicly as well. While that may not appeal to everyone, and understandably so, it helped me to keep myself centered.
I think that this is something particularly difficult for fathers. Society tells us that we are supposed to be almost emotionless and not feel these things and if as a man, you actually do have these feelings, God forbid you ever admit it.
Look, we are human beings living in very difficult situations. These situations very often require sacrifice to the nth degree. Feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or even resentful is completely normal, at least in my opinion. I also think that admitting these things is not a sign of weakness or even bad parenting. In fact, I would argue that it shows great courage and a deep unconditional love for our kids. Honestly, no one likes admitting things like this, but in doing so we get a better understanding of our limitations and ourselves.
As far as I’m concerned, this helps to make me a better parent, and speaking for myself, I need all the help I can get.
Article courtesy of Motivated magazine. Used with permission. Photo by David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Thank You, Dear Parents...
From Jesus with Love
Text courtesy of Activated! magazine. Photo by 123rf.com
Marianne Neifert, M.D
My life has been devoted to children and families—my own, and those I’ve encountered in my career as a pediatrician. My first baby was born only a few months before I started medical school, and my fifth child arrived seven years later, on the final day of my pediatric residency. These two paths—medicine and motherhood—have been inextricably intertwined; they’ve often enhanced—and sometimes competed with—one another.
But over the years, as I’ve helped my own children journey into young adulthood and worked with countless families in my career, I’ve gained some hard-earned perspective and insights into raising kids. No parent will have all the answers all of the time, but these simple parenting guidelines can help make your time together as a family that much richer.
Provide unconditional love and encouragement
As her parent, you’re the first one to convince a child of her worth and help her venture into the world with confidence. You can make her feel cherished by giving her your time and attention daily, whether by reading a book, playing, or talking together. For instance, try to spend a little one-on-one time with your child when you get home, before you do anything else. After picking her toddler up at daycare, one mom I know uses the walk home as a way to reconnect. If she runs into friends, she’ll wave at them but won’t stop to chat; she’s learned that it frustrates her daughter too much.
Show your child that you value her by acknowledging her feelings, and by listening when she talks. It’s easy to let your mind wander as a toddler or preschooler babbles on, but kids are very good at picking up on when you’re distracted. Having a focused conversation with your child—rather than just responding with the occasional “Uh-huh”—builds up her vocabulary at the same time that it boosts her self-esteem.
The way you encourage your child is also important. By emphasizing her efforts (“You sure seemed to enjoy working on this picture for Grandma”) over her results (“I like the way you stayed inside the lines this time”), you’ll show support and foster self-approval, and make her less reliant on the acceptance of others.
And finally, the best way to encourage your child? Simply tell her that you love her as often as you can.
Make your child your highest priority
We all face enormous demands on our time, and our family life is always threatened by competing priorities, whether or not we work outside the home. But we have to learn to distinguish the important things, like spending time with our youngsters, from the urgent things, like ever-present project deadlines and chores. The truth is that in order to be an effective parent, you have to continually re-rank your priorities.
When I had my first four babies during college, medical school, and my internship, I breastfed each one. But I didn’t make it to the one-year mark, the ideal goal. It wasn’t until I made a conscious decision while I was pregnant with my fifth baby to put breastfeeding higher than other priorities that I succeeded. To do that, I had to say no to several opportunities—including taking over a busy practice—at the end of my residency training.
Putting your kids first doesn’t mean you have to be a martyr, or a superwoman. No one is saying that you can’t take time for yourself. But it does mean that sometimes you have to make choices. A hospital administrator I knew gave up her job to accept a less prestigious position so she could spend more time with her daughter. The turning point came as soon as her daughter’s preschool teacher told her, “Whenever Kaitlyn draws a family picture, you’re not in it.”
Strengthen your team
Generally speaking, moms act as the principal caretakers of immediate physical and emotional needs. Dads, on the other hand, tend to promote risk-taking and independence, and build self-reliance and assertiveness because they are more apt to let kids work out their problems by themselves.
Each of these responses—the security of knowing you have a nurturing home base and the space to figure out what you need—communicates an important message to your child and gives him the ability to handle whatever life throws at him. Thanks to my husband, my daughter Tricie learned to swim during one of our family vacations when she was 4. While he was busy encouraging her to go down the pool’s water slide, I was busy admonishing her to be careful.
The best way to start operating like a team is to agree with your partner on the big things—like what rules you’ll have and how to discipline—and then let each of you handle the day-to-day routines as you see fit. Moms, especially, must let go of the feeling that they know what’s best for their children. Otherwise, dads will always be consigned to the helper role.
What about single parents? Do everything you can to cultivate meaningful relationships with other loving adults, whether relatives or trusted role models, like teachers and scout leaders. And, as hard as it may be sometimes, it’s important for divorced parents to work together with an ex-spouse so their child doesn’t feel like he has to choose between them. If your ex is out of the picture or unable to give emotional support, be honest about the circumstances, and help your child work through his grief.
The best way to help teach your child to distinguish right from wrong is by setting clear limits and enforcing them consistently. If you feel as though you’re slipping into a power struggle, step back: Give your child a time-out or simply tell her you’ll deal with her in a few minutes—and don’t decide on a punishment until you’re more calm.
When she does break the rules, respond in a way that won’t deal a blow to her self-esteem: Ignore attention-getters like whining; give a brief warning or scolding for minor infractions (such as jumping on the furniture); issue an age-appropriate time-out to stop aggressive or antisocial behavior (like biting and hitting); and use logical consequences, such as putting their toys aside for a day whenever your kids fight over them.
But discipline isn’t just a question of punishment. It’s also about modeling positive behavior—like remembering to say “please” and “thank you” to teach your child the value of manners—and praising her when she’s been cooperative and helpful. By spending extra time with your child, you can minimize whining and other misbehaviors triggered by a need for attention.
One of the best gifts you can give your child is to help him understand that he’s responsible for the choices he makes as well as the consequences of his actions, and ultimately, his own happiness. The first step toward building self-reliance: Offer your child choices that are right for his age. Toddlers are capable of picking what they want for breakfast or which shirt to wear (as long as you give them two choices). A three-year-old can also pitch in and do simple chores—helping you pick up toys or unload the dishwasher, for instance. Delegating these tasks not only lets your preschooler make a contribution to your household, but teaches him accountability.
The next step: Encourage your child to tackle new skills, like riding a trike or reading a story aloud. If he makes mistakes, let him work through them instead of rushing in to fix things. You’ll promote a sense of competence, and he’ll learn to weigh consequences before acting.
When he faces inevitable setbacks and failures, help him discover how to look for solutions rather than view such obstacles as beyond his control. If your toddler cries when another child takes his toy, for example, say, “Let’s go see if she’ll give it back.” Or if your preschooler tells you he has no friends, you can show him, through role-playing, ways to ask other kids to play, or together invite someone to come visit.
Lastly, encourage your child to think, even if his opinions differ from your own. You’ll free him from a fear of disapproval that will make him less dependent on others for his happiness.
Use routines to create a sense of togetherness
Family rituals and familiar patterns provide kids with a sense of security. Little children are reassured by knowing that their morning outing—whether to the park or the library—is followed by lunch, or that naptime will come after story time. School-age kids also look forward to predictable shared events, such as eating dinner together or spending time with Dad on weekends. These routines increase your child’s perception of control, which in turn increases her confidence.
Traditions also provide the social glue that bonds one generation to another, creating many of the special “anchor” memories within a family. In my own case, I hosted a multigenerational Thanksgiving reunion for years that gave our children both a strong family identity and sense of connection to their past.
Take time to recharge
You know the adage: “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Chronic sleep deprivation, isolation, and self-neglect can leave a parent physically depleted, emotionally discouraged, and, ultimately, ineffective. So give yourself permission to take a break—to renew your perspective, enthusiasm, sense of humor, and energy. That may mean an afternoon off to visit a friend or go to a movie. Or it may be as simple as learning to ask for what you need, and accepting help from others.
I once met a woman who had lost her mother, but whose mother-in-law had become like a second mom to her. She explained that the older woman had helped her raise her children and preserved her marriage. “I never could have done it without her support,” the woman insisted. Her mother-in-law just smiled and modestly acknowledged, “Everybody needs somebody to steady things up.”
“That’s it!” I thought, as a virtual parade of helpers flashed through my mind—individuals who had steadied things up for my husband, Larry, and me when we were overwhelmed with responsibility for five children. In fact, we were aided every step of the way by the experience and generosity of grandparents, aunts and uncles, babysitters, teachers, coaches, pastors, neighbors, and friends. On many occasions, Larry and I enjoyed a night out, and even a weekend getaway, because we had asked someone, and someone had agreed to stay with our kids. And we were then better able to take care of our children because we had taken care of ourselves.
Marianne Neifert, M.D. is the author of three books, most recently Dr. Mom’s Guide to Breastfeeding.
Article from http://living.msn.com/family-parenting/parenting-tips/article?_skipscp=true&cp-documentid=31973647. Photo copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Thoughts on Fatherhood
Slideshow dedicated to Fathers. Happy Father's Day!
Long Range Effects
Whenever you hear of a man doing a great thing, you may be sure that behind it somewhere is a great background. It may be a mother’s training, a father’s example, a teacher’s influence, or an intense experience of his own, but it has to be there or else the great achievement does not come, no matter how favorable the opportunity.
--- Catherine Miles
The London Times reports: Fathers who devote time to their sons—even as little as five minutes a day—are giving them a far greater chance to grow up as confident adults, a parenting research project has found.
Boys who feel that their fathers devote time especially to them and talk about their worries, schoolwork, and social lives almost all emerge as motivated and optimistic young men full of confidence and hope.
The study, from the Tomorrow’s Men project supported by Oxford University and funded by Top Man picked out youngsters with high self-esteem, happiness, and confidence as successful "can-do" kids.
The study found little difference between the positive effects of a good relationship with a father in a standard two-parent family and with an absent father who nevertheless made the effort to make time for the family. “Whatever the shape or form of a family, if you can get it together it makes a difference.”
Families who spent significant amounts of time together as a unit were also more likely to turn out confident children.
Prayers of Parents
May we so live that all our children will be able to acquire our best virtues and to leave behind our worst failings. May we pass on the light of courage and compassion, and the questing spirit; and may that light burn more brightly in these our children than it has in us.
Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee—and that in Thee is the foundation stone of knowledge.
Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.
Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the weakness of true strength.
Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.”
—General Douglas MacArthur
I was watching some little kids play soccer. These kids were only five or six years old, but they were playing a real game, a serious game. Two teams, complete with coaches, uniforms, and parents. I didn’t know any of them, so I was able to enjoy the game without the distraction of being anxious about winning or losing; I only wished the parents and coaches could have done the same. The teams were pretty evenly matched. I will just call them Team One and Team Two.
Nobody scored in the first period. The kids were hilarious. They were clumsy and earnest as only children can be. They fell over their own feet, stumbled over the ball, kicked at the ball and missed it, but they didn’t seem to care.—They were having fun!
In the second period, the Team One coach pulled out what must have been his first team players and put in the scrubs, with the exception of his best player, who he left at goalie. The game took a dramatic turn. I guess winning is important even when you are five years old, because the Team Two coach left his best players in, and the Team One scrubs were just no match for them.
Team Two swarmed around the little guy at goalie. He was an outstanding athlete for five, but he was no match for three or four who were equally as good. Team Two began to score.
The lone goalie gave it his all, recklessly throwing his body in front of incoming balls, trying valiantly to stop them. Team Two scored two quick points in succession. It infuriated the young boy. He became a raging maniac, shouting, running, and diving. With all the stamina he could muster, he finally was able to cover one of the boys as he approached the goal. But that boy kicked the ball to another boy twenty feet away, and by the time the young goalie repositioned himself, it was too late. They scored a third goal.
I soon learned who the goalie’s parents were. They were nice, decent-looking people. I could tell that his dad had just come from the office, tie and all. They yelled encouragement to their son. I became totally absorbed, watching the boy on the field and his parents on the sideline. After the third goal the little kid changed. He could see it was no use; he couldn’t stop them. He didn’t quit, but he became quietly desperate. Futility was written all over his face.
His father changed too. He had been urging his son to try harder, yelling advice and encouragement. But then he changed; he became anxious. He tried to say that it was okay to hang in there. He grieved for the pain his son was feeling.
After the fourth goal, I knew what was going to happen. I’ve seen it before. The little boy needed help so badly, and there was no help to be had. He retrieved the ball from the net and handed it to the referee, and then he cried. He just stood there while huge tears rolled down both cheeks. He went to his knees, and then I saw his father start onto the field. His wife clutched his wrist and said, “Jim, don’t. You’ll embarrass him."
But the boy’s father tore loose from her and ran onto the field. He wasn’t supposed to, for the game was still in progress. Suit, tie, dress shoes and all, he charged onto the field and he picked up his son so everybody would know that this was his boy. And he hugged him and kissed him and cried with him! I have never been so proud of any man in my life.
He carried him off the field, and when they got close to the sidelines I heard him say, “Son, I’m so proud of you. You were great out there. I want everybody to know that you are my son."
"Daddy,” the boy sobbed, "I couldn’t stop them. I tried, Daddy, I tried and tried and they scored on me."
"Scotty, it doesn’t matter how many times they score on you. You’re my son, and I’m proud of you. I want you to go back out there and finish the game. I know you want to quit, but you can’t. And son, you’re going to get scored on again, but it doesn’t matter. Go on, now.”
It made a difference.—I could tell it did. When you’re all alone, you’re getting scored on, and you can’t stop them, it means a lot to know that it doesn’t matter to those who love you. The little guy ran back on to the field. Team Two scored two more times, but it was okay.
What Makes a Dad
Slideshow dedicated to Fathers. Happy Father's Day!
What Makes a Dad Great
Remember how the father [in the parable Jesus told of the prodigal son] acted when the boy returned home? (Luke 15:11-24) Did he run up and sniff his breath to see if he had been drinking? Did he comment on how poorly he had cared for his clothes? Did he criticize his straggly hair and dirty fingernails? Did he inquire about the balance left in his checking account? Of course not. He hugged the boy—the hug of loving acceptance.
This story of a father’s love is immortalized in the Bible primarily, I believe, to tell something of how God accepts us. Should we not consciously use His example in dealing with our children? Can we afford to neglect giving them hugs of loving acceptance each day?
This love is the warm blanket each parent can weave for his or her children—a blanket of love that accepts each child for what he is. Such love is never content to stop assisting the youngster to climb higher and higher toward the plan God has for every life.
—Dr. Bob Pedrick
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One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.--George Herbert
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When I was a kid, my father told me every day, “You’re the most wonderful boy in the world, and you can do anything you want to.”—Jan Hutchins
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Every dad, if he takes time out of his busy life to reflect upon his fatherhood, can learn ways to become an even better dad.—Jack Baker
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My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.--Jim Valvano
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[My father] didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
--Clarence Budington Kelland
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A man’s children and his garden both reflect the amount of weeding done during the growing season.--Author unknown
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Small boys become big men through the influence of big men who care about small boys.--Author unknown
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There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. --John Gregory Brown
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A dad is respected because he gives his children leadership.
A dad is appreciated because he gives his children care.
A dad is valued because he gives his children time.
A dad is loved because he gives his children the one thing they treasure most—himself.
Excerpted from Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
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