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The Gift of the Unexpected

August 18, 2012

The other night, I was in our home office sending emails about 10:30 pm at night.  My daughter Sarina stated, “Dad, if you are going downstairs, could you get me a water bottle?”  I commented that I wasn’t really planning on going downstairs and that I was going to bed soon.  She said, “OK, no big deal”.  About 15 minutes later, I slipped downstairs and grabbed the bottled water and surprised Sarina as she was reading.  The look on her face was sheer delight.  It was not about the water bottle, but rather about someone thinking about her and treating her special.

Simple truth:  An unexpected gift is always more appreciated, than one that is expected.  Unexpected gifts do not have to be larger gestures, in fact the smaller gestures communicate quite powerfully.  The message we want to give to our kids is “I was thinking about you.”

Here are a few ideas for some small unexpected gifts:

* A mid afternoon text message

*Picking up a favorite snack on your way home from work

*Designing a poster with you kid’s picture and an inspirational quote on it

*Doing their chores for them when you know they are overwhelmed and stressed

*Sending an encouraging email

Stephen Covey coined the term “emotional bank account”.  When we deliver unexpected gifts, both large and small, we make huge deposits into the emotional bank account.  These deposits are the backbone of a strong relationship and are especially handy during times of stress when the account can get depleted.  Dads, take a moment today and think of an unexpected gesture you can give to one of your children and watch him/her light up with joy.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  Contact him

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