Father’s Day was approaching, and we had gathered with several families we know well to celebrate the fathers together. We’ve had a longstanding tradition to take a few minutes and go around the room and let each child tell something they appreciate about his or her daddy.

But this time, my stomach was in knots. My friend and her husband had had a really difficult year. He’d started his own business, and it had been all-consuming. He had seen very little of his kids or his wife. She had four small children, and it had been really hard on her. Not much help — or appreciation, affirmation, or support. It would have been easy for her to be critical of the “cost” of this venture in her life, as well as in the family life as a whole. It had been tough on their marriage and on their children.

When her four-year-old’s turn came to tell something he liked about his daddy, I was fearful about what he might say. I was in for a delightful surprise as he exclaimed in his little four-year-old boy voice,

“I appreciates my daddy because he works so hard so we can have food and clothes and a house and he doesn’t get to see me very much which makes him sad because he wants to play with me but he has to work hard right now so he can take care of me. “

Where did this come from? I wondered. It came from a wise woman who made a decision day in and day out over a long period to build up her husband in front of her kids. Sure, she could have been bitter, complained, and said subtle things to her children to communicate her disappointment with her husband. Even though she had some legitimate gripes, she chose instead to give them an appreciation for their dad. And in the long run, her attitude will reap great rewards.

Begin a tradition this Father’s Day of having your kids and grandkids share specific things they appreciate about these important men in their lives.

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