For many people, the beginning of a new year represents an opportunity to put some things behind them and look ahead to some new beginnings. Thus, we have the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.

Prompted by an email from the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), I did that this year.

NFI’s primary mission is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible and committed fathers. Simply put, the group is encouraging men to realize how indispensable they are in the lives of their children. The group was founded in 1994 to lead a national movement to confront the problem of father absence. But they are also working to help men that are involved with their children to be better husbands and better dads. To that end, their year-end e-mail entitled “New Year’s Resolutions for Dads” included six suggestions that I’d like to pass along in summary:

Hug your children more often. You should never underestimate the importance of simply hugging your children. Not only is it a loving gesture, but it also communicates a great sense of acceptance and security. Hugs make children feel loved and protected.

In their book ”’The Blessing,”’ authors Gary Smalley and John Trent emphasize the importance of providing “a meaningful touch,” the first of five elements involved in blessing our children. Whether it is a hug, a pat on the back or simply your arm around their shoulder, you can never underestimate the importance of physically communicating to child that they are accepted and loved.

Don’t just tell your children you love them, tell them why. Every child needs constant reassurance that they are loved unconditionally, not because of how they look or what they can do, but because they are ours. Far too many children associate love and acceptance from their dads with performance or appearance.

Smalley and Trent place a great emphasis on the value of spoken words because what we say to our kids will impact them for a lifetime. In fact, the second, third and fourth elements of blessing our children all revolve around what we say to them. The second element involves taking the time to look them in the eyes and simply tell them that we love them. “I love you” are three of the most important, stimulating and comforting words that anyone can ever hear. Say them to your kids.

The third element of blessing a child is building their confidence by giving them a sense of their value. Make sure that you are taking time to let them know how much they mean to you without qualifying your words by pointing out the things they do wrong.

Speak words of encouragement to them, too. The fourth element of blessing is to give your children a sense of a special future. This involves emphasizing good characteristics. If a child has a love and concern for animals, tell them they could grow up to be a really good veterinarian. Let them know that they can have a bright future and that you are committed to helping them get there.

Read with (or to) your children. Dads who read with and to their children give their kids a major jumpstart on their education. In addition, you will create some special memories of favorite books that will carry over with your children. One day, you may find yourself confronted by a grandchild that wants you to read to them just like you did for their mom or dad.

If you don’t want your children to repeat it, don’t let them hear you say it. Watch your language and guard your words. If you don’t want your kids using coarse language, don’t let them hear you using such words. If you don’t want to create doubts or fears in your kids’ minds about the stability of their home, be careful about what you say to their mother. In fact, one of the most reassuring things that a dad can do for his children is to love and affirm their mother in their presence.

Keep your word. If you tell them you will do something, do it. If you say you are going to be there, be there on time. Nothing undermines a child’s confidence in his/her dad like a constant string of broken promises or missed commitments.

Give your kid your time. Someone once told me that “you can take someone’s money and they can get more money. But if you take their time, they can never get more time.” There are lot of kids, and adults too, for whom no amount of money would ever compensate them for the time they were denied with their dads.

These simple suggestions from NFI really convicted me, especially about the amount of time I spend occupied with things far less important than my children. I’ve made a renewed resolution for the New Year; I hope these suggestions help you make one of your own. Your kids will be blessed by it and so will you.

If you would like to learn more about NFI, visit its Web site at: http://www.fatherhood.org

”’Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society. This column is a copyrighted feature distributed free of charge by the Alabama Policy Institute. For information or comments contact: Gary Palmer, Alabama Policy Institute, 402 Office Park Drive, Suite 300, Birmingham, Alabama 35223, (205) 870-9900, by email at:”’ mailto:garyp@alabamapolicy.org ”’For more information, go to:”’ http://www.alabamapolicyinstitute.org/subscribe

”’HawaiiReporter.com reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to:”’ mailto:Malia@HawaiiReporter.com

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