At the Park with Ryan
Dad, there’s a kid just down your street with real needs that you can fill.
Not long ago, my son Chance and I walked to a neighborhood park together. We chased each other and played tag along the way. It was a great father-son time.
At the park, I planted myself on the bench as Chance tried out the equipment. Pretty soon, another boy appeared and approached me on the bench. His name was Ryan, and he was 11 years old. We struck up a conversation, and soon he and Chance were testing their skills on the monkey bars.
Ryan had a bag of baseball gear with him. So we took turns batting. The more we got to know this respectful and bright young man, the more he impressed me.
He told us that he lives a few blocks away and comes to the park often, hoping to find someone to play catch or take a few swings. At one point, I asked Ryan about his family, and he said, “I don’t know my dad.”
When we parted company, we talked about seeing him again. Maybe he and Chance would get together and play sometime.
And as Ryan walked away, I stopped Chance for a quick teachable moment. I said, “Chance, look at Ryan right now. Who is he with right now?”
“That’s right, Son. And who are you with?”
“I’m with my dad.”
I talked to Chance about all the fatherless children in our nation. Many are good kids like Ryan. Chance even said he’d love to have Ryan as his brother. But sadly, these children don’t have a father who will take them to the park. A lot of times, they’re hungry for someone to play catch, offer some coaching tips, or just show some interest in their lives. Often the few male role models available to them aren’t that great.
You know, I didn’t do anything extraordinary that day, but our encounter with Ryan did convince me even more that we fathers—we who have high commitment to our families—need to reach out to kids who need us. We can include them in some family activities and offer a word of encouragement.
Men, know this: even if we sometimes mess up, what we give to our kids is still a blessing and great benefit. It's time to extend that blessing to other children who need us.
Written by Carey Casey
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