Best Gift to Your Kids Isn’t What You Think – Fr. Michael Sliney, LC

Best Gift to Your Kids Isn’t What You Think – Fr. Michael Sliney, LC

Must everything be wrapped up with a bow on top? One intangible but priceless possession is worth some reflection.



I am amazed to see the heroic sacrifices so many moms make for the good of their kids. It’s the same with the hard work and sleepless nights so many businessmen and women endure to provide for their families.

But how willing are they to sacrifice for their spouse? And do they realize that if they do, they’re giving a tremendous and lifelong gift to their children?

I recently asked a mother of four, “What percentage of your day do you spend thinking about your kids?”

She responded, “Ninety-nine percent — actually, probably 99.9 percent.”

So I asked next, “What about your husband?”

She said, “My husband is a big boy now. He can take care of himself.”

During dinner with a family in Washington, D.C., I asked the husband about his role within the family and how he perceived it. He replied, “That’s pretty clear. I’m here to provide for them. I work hard to pay the bills and keep this ship running. My wife focuses on the kids.”

Another gentleman once told me, “Father, if I died today, I would be good with God. I provided my wife and kids with this beautiful house, a safe neighborhood, and a top-class education. They have nothing to worry about.”

Many years ago, a successful business leader shared a very telling concern. His name had been in the papers for his business successes, he said, and “accolades were pouring in from all sides. But I am deeply hurt,” he told me, “because the one person who matters most to me is not recognizing my success. My wife even belittles me and tries to minimize it as much as possible. Her esteem is what I would most appreciate — this is so painful.

Revealing, isn’t it?

Another business leader I know once told me that if a colleague at work stops by to make a joke or to comment on a current event or a bit of sports news, he will always make time in his busy schedule for that kind of chitchat. But if his wife calls him during work, he immediately gets impatient and tells her, “Honey, I am overwhelmed at work right now. Sorry, I can’t discuss this now. It’ll have to wait.”

I could continue with more anecdotes, but the point is clear. The greatest gift parents can give their children is the love and respect they have for each other. Moms need to be wives and dads need to be husbands, first and foremost.

Looking back on my own childhood, I recall how I sensed when my parents were in a good spot with each other — and I loved how they would spend some time together with each other, sometimes with a glass of wine as they chatted. At other times, they’d pray together, play tennis, and go dancing. They also went on several European trips and cruises together.

I noticed so many little sacrifices and acts of kindness that they extended toward each other — it was easy to see they were each thinking of the other, all the time.

This gave me great peace and still does — and it showed what true love and commitment are all about. I encourage all parents to focus more on the needs of their spouses — and to give this tremendous and lifelong gift to the children.

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