In one of the most adorable videos you’ve ever seen, a clip went viral last week that showed a few minutes of a father and his baby son conversing despite the fact the infant can only speak gibberish.
The mother, Shanieke Pryor, shared the video below on Facebook and the world instantly became a better place.
The video currently has more than 55 million views and has been shared more than one-and-a-half-million times.
Although the cuteness scale tips out at maximum, the video offers some practical advice that all parents would be well served to follow.
First, your children are more important than your screen.
The screen is on, but the father is not consumed by it. The father is enjoying his son, as well he should be. There is no game, no show, no plot line that you can’t watch later.
But you will never be able to hit the rewind button with life. Turn the TV off or the sound down, put the phone away and look your family members in the eye. Enjoy who they are. Talk to them. The days may be long, but the years are short.
Second, enjoy the years with your little ones.
Sure, the nights often are filled with cries. Yes, children make messes. But there will come a day when their feet won’t run to you. Your lap won’t be the best seat in the house. Soak up the days when they are soaking you up. You will get time alone soon enough. And it won’t be at all what you expected. Hold those messy kids. Treasure the stains on your clothes as symbols of your great wealth. Don’t always look forward to the next season. This one is simply one-of-a-kind.
Next, take time to listen.
We can buy our children all the best toys, the fancy electronics and the fastest wheels, but none of that is as important as hearing them. I can see the parents rolling their eyes, ‘Oh I hear them alright, it’s all I do!” But I mean really hear them. Notice how the dad in the video could have just let his son prattle on, but he engaged. He listened. And though he can’t yet form words, you can see that it made a huge difference in the mind of his son.
Talk with your children, not at them.
Sure, there is a time to teach, to correct and to train. And that is your foremost duty as a parent. But don’t waste the opportunity to actually converse, to have a real dialogue. Even if the words coming out of their mouth are unintelligible. It takes patience and effort to talk with a child. Don’t forego the opportunity because it is difficult.
Next, find time to have fun shoulder-to-shoulder.
The dad is enjoying time with his son. He’s not doing things for him such as buying a car or cheering from the bleachers (though those are fine things to do), but he is living life with his child. I remember a conversation with a friend whose son passed away at a young age. I asked him how he would have parented differently if he knew his time would be shorter. His answer stunned me, “More fishing trips, less baseball leagues.” I asked him what he meant, and he replied that he realized he wasn’t getting to know his son by watching him play baseball. “I would have preferred the conversation on a lake while we fished for bass,” my friend said. Sports and activities are fine, but don’t confuse them for authentic relationship building.
Make memories with your children.
I love that mom is filming the moment while the dad soaks up the good stuff. It doesn’t matter if you put it on Facebook or Instagram, but don’t miss an opportunity to make a memory. My wife writes down the funny things my children say and then enjoys looking back at them later. One of my family’s favorite things to do is to go back through the Google drive and watch our old family videos. My children will watch the same 15-second video over and over. They are priceless. Parents, take time to make memories.
Lastly, laugh with your children.
I love to see the authentic joy of the father in the video as he enjoys the moment. I smile as I see him humoring his son for only the selfless purpose of making the boy happy. I get it. Their jokes are silly and their magic tricks are atrocious. But there is something about laughing with your children that heals the soul. Your children won’t always think you are funny. But for those early years, there isn’t a comedian in the world who can compare to a dad with a mischievous smile.
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