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Dads: Look back, look ahead

The new year allows us to reflect on moments past that have come and gone with the speed and urgency of time that is no longer ours. During these times of reflection, regardless of the time of year, we can assess what is working in our lives or what is lacking. In doing so, we can set goals to make change.

Speaking as a parent, there are many times when I have had to be away from my family. Working full time, day-to-day chores, hunting trips, game days and more can take us away from those who need our time the most.

Many times we look back and say we will try to make more of an effort to change that, to be more involved with our families and children's lives, yet we fall short of our intended goals.

In fact, we made a wa-tered-down commitment to ourselves. We can do better.

When I look into the eyes of my wife, Amanda, and those of my son, Me-kiah, 10, and daughter, Skylie, 7, I need not look any further to know how much they need me. It forces me to hold myself to the utmost accountability and the choices I make based on reflections of the past to which I remain faithful.

I realize that my chil-dren cry out for nurturing, a shoulder to lean on, a body to snuggle up to dur-ing a funny cartoon, a voice to be heard when life lessons are being sought, and a heart to give warmth because of all things our children need, love is what makes them whole. Love gives them the encouragement to strive to do their best. Love gives them the twinkle in their eyes and propels them to the stars with the secure belief that they can be anything they want because you believe in them.

Flight, to us, may be an abnormal thought, but teach a child that they can fly and they will soar to the clouds past all limitations that presently keep many adults grounded.

I challenge all who re-flect back on the past year, especially if you have chil-dren in your life, whether you are a mom or dad, a single parent, a grandpar-ent, a friend, a mentor, an aunt or uncle, ask yourself if you see something you want to change.

If there is something you want to make better, stand up and make that change with your mind and heart. Make a commitment to bring change today that will have all the positive impact on a child's future. Take control of your life to bring change to yourself and most importantly to your family.

You have power now to ensure that when you re-flect back again in the fu-ture, you will not see the same reflections you see today.

Editor's note: Joe Johnson and his wife Amanda have two children. He is a licensed master trainer/consultant for St. Joseph's Area Health Services Community Health Nurturing Fathers Program and is a case manager for the FATHER Project, a program funded by Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota. To learn more about participating in Fathering Skills classes, call him at 255-2063 or e-mail josephjohnson@catholic