Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Reflections on Parenthood from the Father of the Bride


With the advent of my daughter Nicole’s wedding this coming Saturday at the National Museum of Dance, I marvel how time has passed so quickly since she was a little girl. Where did the years go, and am I really this old? I am also inspired to reflect on that special bond between fathers and daughters. How often do we take the time to treasure the times with our children, and to reminisce on the many memories that have shaped our family? For all of you in the depths of parenting, treasure the moments, and emotionally focus on those kindred times that pass in a blink of an eye. Two essential questions to ask yourself are, what will my children remember me for, and what emotional legacy will I pass down to the people I love most? It is never the memory of what someone had that is everlasting, but always the memory of what they were, and the positive difference they made.

Personally, I can recall physically being there when my children were young, but I was emotionally in the pursuit of striving for “success”, and building a career. At times, I was not thoughtfully mindful of what I was missing with my children, because my agenda was more important. I am here to share with all of you, your agenda is never more important than the time you establish to influence, and be a positive example for your children. We are all parentally challenged and no one parent or family is perfect. However, do not miss the opportunity to establish genuine love and a mutually respectful bond with your children, before they walk down that isle themselves.

The following are several effective parenting characteristics that children learn to admire and respect as they mature. *Discipline - children are yearning for strength of character and structure in their lives. *Integrity - no child, or adult for that matter, wants to be around those who are indecisive and inconsistent in their behavior. *Core Values - provides an established expectation of behavior and defines the structural emotional foundation for the family. *Honesty – is the key to building trust, resulting in healthy communication, and the ability to face challenges, and persevere through adolescence, peer pressure and the ever-occurring parent/child bickering and argument. *Self-Esteem - is earned not given, and we are the catalyst to eliminate that sense of entitlement and “everyone else is doing it” mentality our children may possess. *Accountability - is the antidote for thinking our children our blameless. They are not angels, and it is not everyone else’s fault for their misbehaviors and misgivings. Parents should not fall into the trap of making excuses for their children. It sends the message that “whatever” and “my bad” are acceptable which negates personal responsibility. *Manners - are the expression of respect and behavioral protocol within our relationships with others. As parents, we set the example in how we communicate, respect, tolerate, react to and judge those around us. If we exemplify and communicate derogatory, discriminatory, and degrading behaviors, why would our children be any different? Two final encouraged behaviors to exemplify are empathy and humility. To be understanding of others and be modest in our own importance is essential to establishing a sense of service for our children beyond themselves. In all areas of human ability there are those more talented and those less talented, but for us to appreciate our skills and those of others is to respect the world we live in and the lives we impact.

Our children are an extension of us genetically, environmentally, socially and emotionally. Although we do not create the ultimate end product we certainly have the ability to love and mold the product as it is being produced. My daughter is someone that will always be an extension of me, I love her, respect her, and I wish her all the joy the world has to offer as she ventures to achieve fullness of character, happiness, love, and contentment. To my fellow dads, always remember, a daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.

Friday, August 07, 2020

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