"Daddy, would you like to join me on a daddy-daughter date to this?"
In my first grader's tiny hand was a flyer inviting students and their fathers to All Pro Dad for breakfast and conversational fun. Championed by her incredible school principal who cares just as much about her students' hearts and families as she does their success in the classroom, All Pro Dad offered opportunity to bring them together in a new way and the mere idea put stars in Grace's eyes.
Daddy time is special.
Her gaze never left his eyes and a smile overcame her when she heard Charlie affirm, "I would love to."
Expecting a handful, the leaders were surprised to host around 100 fathers and their children each month. A new location in the school was claimed and more breakfast was ordered to host the many men who believed that the strongest impact they will make isn't in their career, but in leading the homes and hearts of their family.
"A man never stands so tall as when he kneels to help a child." Unknown
Month after month I watched out the window as my husband left hand in hand with Grace. Quickly becoming clear that this wasn't just another thing on Charlie's schedule, time at All Pro Dad was shading the way he viewed time with our children. He wears a suit each day and runs a bank, but a video sharing one second of each day in a child's life until they were 12 moved him to tears.
"You wouldn't believe how fast it went, honey. It makes you realize just how fast they grow and the need to slow down really see it."
I'd pick up Grace from school and hear the other side of it. "Mom, did you know when dad was a kid he sometimes felt like the kid who was bullied in the video." And a discussion ensued that created more freedom to talk about feelings and a knowingness in human suffering. "Mom, this week dad and I are going to do a random act of kindness." And I was gifted to get in on the conversation they had about the importance of giving.
The first Friday of every month became a space of communion that opened up conversation in new ways and reinforced for every child that no topic is off the table. They can come to daddy about everything.
My work is primarily with teenagers. With sadness, I respond to teen after teen who've fallen into the arms of the wrong boy because they never had a father tell her she was special and set the standard for respect. Statistics tell us that most incarcerated males had dads absent from their lives. Moreover, teens will reach out to me - a stranger - for help because they don't know how to talk to their parents about bullying, classroom failure, eating disorders, friendship issues and relationship questions, and important life choices all because they don't know how to strike up the conversation. Mom and dad didn't talk to them about the "meaty" things in their young years and now that they are at a place of thinking through life altering things they find them more a stranger than advisor. This brokenness is tough to repair.
My daughter and her fellow schoolmates are, for the most part, not at a place where they face most of these issues, but this added time together is showing the young boys what a man of integrity looks like and modeling for little girls how a character man will treat her. It is opening up important conversations (in perhaps different ways than we might think to in our house) and laying the foundation for a more connected, healthy family future.
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy once called the plays in a game on the field. Now he's helped launch a program that's a game changer in life.
And we are grateful.
This morning my husband left with Grace for the final meeting of the year. But, before leaving, he gifted her with this beautiful necklace as momento of this time together.
Made by KraftyKash who cuts all her pieces from vintage dictionaries, bibles, and cards, the intertwining hearts in the center represent his and hers. The blue and green beads are for Grace's school colors. And, the lock and key symbolize the opening of great conversation.
It was a gorgeous moment between a father saying, "You matter" and a daughter hearing once again, "I am loved."
Be still my heart.
When I told Kashoan how much we loved her custom piece she graciously offered a random act of kindness herself and said that I could gift one of you! And, since I'm the wife to the All Pro Dad, leaning in on God and praying over our family, I chose a bible verse pendant.
I wear Isaiah 41:10 as a constant reminder of His presence and powerful support.
What promise might you want around your neck? One of you lucky readers (in the continental US) will be able to choose your favorite verse. Simply comment with your favorite verse to enter. You can receive additional entries for sharing this post on Facebook and Twitter. Please leave an additional comment for each way you share. And, be sure to leave your email with your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner. I will use random.org to pick the winner at noon on Monday, May 20.
Slow down and invest time in the people you love today, friends. I'm off to hear about today's All Pro Dad. :)
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