Several years ago, another dad encouraged me to bring home flowers for my daughters often so when they get older, they know that the first man who ever bought them flowers was their dad. He said to accompany the bouquets with genuine compliments and healthy affection. This way, when my daughter reaches her teenage years, she’ll be less likely to be mesmerized by the first boy who compliments her, who buys her flowers, or who tells her he loves her. It’s advice I’ve taken seriously—meaning there are often flowers in my home—and I hope it speaks to the heart of each of my daughters.
I think this lesson fits into the numerous things I look forward to passing on to my children. With five kids ages 4 through 13, I have a lot to look forward to. I want to teach my kids how to change a flat tire, how to build a campfire, and how to operate power tools without injury. I savor seeing them dive into some of my favorite stories like The Lord of the Rings. But there are also 5 childhood milestones I’m looking forward to sharing with them more than all of these.
1. Driving a Car
I can still vividly remember the night my dad tossed me the keys for the first time and said, “You’re driving home.” I was at once thrilled and terrified of what this meant—and those feelings were magnified when he took me out on the highway. It remains one of the most treasured moments I ever shared with my father.
2. An Epic Failure
I also remember the night a couple years later that I totaled that same car. It resulted in the police calling my dad and putting me on the line. I was terrified of how my dad would react to me wrecking his car. While a failure might seem like a strange childhood milestone to look forward to, I never forgot the gentle care and concern I received from my parents that night. This led me to call my dad again when, as a young adult, I had an accident with my own car.
3. First Date
It’s important for a dad to be a part of the conversation when their sons or daughters work up the courage to offer or accept an invitation to go on their first date. I hope they will be well-prepared both in how they should act on a date and in how they expect to be treated by their date.
4. First Breakup
During my teenage years, I was always on the receiving end of breakups. I remember how hard it was to work my way through the mess of emotions: sadness, anger, second-guessing myself, and so on. I also remember how valuable it was to have people who understood all this telling me it was normal to feel such strong emotions (and that eventually, they would pass).
5. Experience of God
In the Landry household, our faith is meant to come first. I pray daily that my kids would grow to a place where all the head knowledge we’ve shared with them about God comes off the page and they come to know Him as real. And whenever this experience comes, as with many other experiences, I want to be there to encourage them to persevere, to answer their questions, and to learn from their discoveries.
Sound off: What childhood milestones are you looking forward to or have been your favorite to experience?