As a father, I’ve learned how difficult it can be to express myself to my kids in honest, vulnerable, and affectionate ways. Even though it may be difficult, there are (at least) three things I think I have the responsibility to communicate to my children personally and constantly. Maybe this letter can give you a starting point for a conversation with your own kids.
It’s Daddy (or “Dad” if you’re too cool now to use such an affectionate term). I’ve been thinking a lot about you and my role as your father. There are a few things I want you to know.
I love you.
First of all, I love you. Hopefully you already know that. But what’s important to me is that you know why I love you. If I were to ask you, “Why does Daddy love you?” what would you say? See, at any given point in your life, your confidence in my love will be based on something. If you believe my love for you is based on your success, then when you get a bad grade or have a bad game, you’ll wonder if I still love you. If you believe that my love for you is based on your good behavior, then when you do something wrong, you’ll wonder if I still love you.
So, as your father, let me clarify this for you now. My love for you is based on something that will never change: You are my son. You are my daughter. And you always will be. You were mine before you were ever able to do anything worthy of approval. So hear me: I love you. And I will always love you. No matter what.
Fatherhood has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I love you and I want to be the best dad I can be. But sometimes, I fail. Sometimes, I fail miserably. And sometimes, you have had to suffer the consequences. So you probably have not heard me say this enough, but I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being impatient and harsh with you. I’m sorry for so often choosing my career over our relationship. I’m sorry for making you feel like an inconvenience or distraction. I’m sorry for not investing in your spiritual life as much as I should have. I’m sorry for the times I’ve sinfully misrepresented what God is like in my words, actions, and priorities. I know you are aware of where I fall short. And if you’re too young to notice, you will one day. So I just want you to know that I’m aware, too. You’re not making it up. You’re not being a crybaby. I was wrong. And I’m sorry.
Jesus is better.
Jesus is much better than me. If you have ever felt loved by me, know that my love is merely a shallow reflection of the vast, inexhaustible, life-changing love that Jesus has for you. I made sacrifices for you to have a decent life. But Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice so that you could have eternal life. I need your forgiveness. But Jesus died so that you and I could receive the forgiveness we desperately need from God.
I have failed to be the father I should be. But Jesus is perfect in every way. In fact, that’s what makes Him qualified to be our Savior. To earn God’s approval, we need to live a perfect life. But Jesus is the only perfect person who has ever lived. Wherever I have failed, Jesus has excelled. Whatever God has required, Jesus has perfectly fulfilled. And He did this not only to give us an example of how to live but so that by putting our trust in Him, we can enjoy all the rewards that Jesus earned through His perfect life.
Jesus is so much better than I am. My deepest desire as a father is that you would know, love, and worship Him. I pray that you see Jesus through what I’ve done well and in spite of what I’ve done wrong. I thank God every day for letting me be your daddy.
P.S. I should be honest that my love for you is slightly dependent on the birthday gifts you give me every year.