To My Daughter On The First Day of Kindergarten

pen-crayon-color-sharp-40757.jpegTo my daughter on the first day of kindergarten,

You have many steps to take on your way to graduation, but this first step is a big one. Here are some lessons I hope will help you as begin this journey:

Do your homework. That is probably hypocritical of me to say, but I have heard it helps. Study. Desire to learn. Better yourself, challenge yourself, equip yourself. Make the most of your education.

But don’t let your grades determine your value. Try hard, but be prepared to fall short sometimes. There are plenty of ways to learn and grow without having to get straight A’s. You may need to close a book and go outside to really understand something. Experience is a great teacher.

Realize popularity is fleeting. The cool kids won’t always be the cool kids. Pursue kindness and goodness instead. Those things will last forever and make you the type of person other people will eventually look up to. Don’t compromise your core values in order to feel like people care about you.

Don’t define yourself in comparison to other people. They may have different abilities or attributes, but they aren’t you and you are plenty wonderful. There is always going to someone else to compare yourself to, but there will never be another you. You do you.

At some point someone may tell you that you can’t do something because you are a girl. They are wrong.

Look for the people that don’t fit in and make a spot for them. Be a friend to everyone you can. Even the school bully will need someone to smile at them. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Don’t grow up too quickly. Run and skip and pick dandelions. You don’t have to be serious all the time. Laugh at yourself. Hold hands with your friends. Be a kid long into your high school years.

Don’t think you need a relationship to be loved or complete. You probably won’t worry about that for a while, but it is as true today as it will be when you are 45. Relationships can be good, bad, toxic, or forever, but they don’t make you any more or less of a person.

Know there will be a time when you lose. Maybe in the spelling bee or in gym class or on homecoming court. Losing is not the end of the world. It is not nearly as bad as being graceless. Win and lose with character.

Speak up. Voice your opinions and your concerns and your ideas. Your input matters. Don’t let others force you to keep quiet, even when your opinion is not popular. Your voice needs to be heard.

Change the world. Cure cancer or just make a difference in life of someone else. Whatever you do, know you are having an impact. Make your impact positive whenever and however you can.

Ask for help when you need it. Be nice to the lunch ladies. Don’t eat glue. Shine brightly. Pick up trash off the floor. Don’t run with scissors. Choose chocolate milk as often as possible. Love Jesus deeply.

And have fun.

You are loved. I’m proud of you already. I’m glad to call you mine.

Dads Don’t Babysit.


Photo Credit: Jason Nelson,

Originally appeared online at Red Tricycle.

A little while back I made a comment about how I had to “babysit my kids.” My wife gently reminded me that watching my kids isn’t actually babysitting. Instead it is something called “parenting.” 

Dads don’t babysit. We parent. We are equally responsible entities who will, on occasion, need to care for our children without the presence of their mother.

We wrangle. We wrestle. We cat-herd. We don’t babysit. At least not when it’s our own children. 

Instead we father. We read. We play. We feed and bathe and build and tickle. 

It’s not a secondary role, but a primary one. Its not called babysitting when a mom spends her precious hours caring for children. Its just called being a mom. 

Men, it is the same for us. The mantle of responsibility does not fall solely to mothers. It is not the woman’s job to raise our children. We are in this together. 

This is what we do. We aren’t too macho or too unequiped or too busy doing man stuff. We are dads. This is man stuff.

We care for our kids. Even when mom isn’t around. Even when they scream or poop their pants or we’ve had a long day and just want to relax. 

Be a dad. Send your lady off with her friends or away for some quiet time. Take your kids out of the house without mom. Step up and help out. Share the wealth (and the burden). 

Your kids need you. Their mother needs you. It’s who you are. You are not a babysitter, you are a parent. We can do this.