leaving a legacy

Leaving a Legacy as a Single Father

Legacy: now there’s a word we don’t often use in everyday conversation. It’s the sort of word that carries both a mysterious and prestigious sense to it. We may tend to think of a legacy as something passed on by a powerful person- someone that has left their mark on the world, for better or worse. The legacy left by a ruler; or perhaps an entrepreneur that has invented a device that changed the world. The truth is, we all will be leaving a legacy behind. Big or small, impactful or indifferent, every single one of us will leave something.

Let me ask you a couple questions: Before you became a single father, did you ever give thought to what sort of legacy you may leave your children one day? Has that changed since you became a single dad? Just because your circumstances have changed, that doesn’t mean you cannot leave a strong legacy to your children! In fact, you may have an even greater opportunity now. Adversity, if approached right, can reap great rewards. Trials can bring hope. Here are a few quick tips on how you can leave a multi-generational legacy.

Cherish each moment

I once had lunch with a happily married father. I shared about my limited time with my daughter and how I wished I could tuck her in each night or pick up the phone and call her whenever I wanted. He admitted he may be taking his time with his children for granted. Use the time you have to your greatest advantage. Think of quality, not quantity. Love on your kids, laugh with them, invest in them, and discipline them. When we grasp how valuable our time with our children really is, we tend to put greater emphasis on what matters most.

Let them see you aren’t perfect

I believe owning our mistakes, admitting we are wrong, and confessing our mishaps are some of the manliest things we can do. Perhaps it’s ownership of why you and Mom split; or that as a full-time parent, you need the help and support of others to get through life. Whatever the case, anytime we can exchange pride for humility, we are giving our children great confidence that as fathers we don’t always get it right—and that is okay.

Little things add up

I have never been able to keep up with my daughter’s mom and her side of the family when it came to fancy trips and gifts. Ever heard the saying the best things in life aren’t things? It’s fair to say that single parents are usually short on two things: time and money. When we can figure out how to steward both for the purposes of our children, then we are leaving a legacy that matters. Playing games on the floor, reading a bedtime story, a simple hug or kiss goodnight, and most of all: the words I love you will all add up when we are gone and our kids are reflecting on our time with them. What changes can you make today to replace temporary moments with memories that will last forever?

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. –Forest E. Witcraft

Sound Off

What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your kids?

Matt Haviland

Matt Haviland writes to reach single dads in the community. He lives with his wife and daughter in Grand Rapids, MI.

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Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What would you want other people to say about you?”

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