This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

It seems like as one year wraps up and another begins there is a lot of time spent looking back and reflecting on the year that was. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the time we focus on the things that didn’t work out or didn’t go as we planned. Perhaps our first thoughts and memories are of the challenging things that happened or the mistakes that we made. While it’s good to reflect on our circumstances and our shortcomings to try and keep the same things from happening again, I encourage you at the end of this year to think about something else as well…to focus on the positive things that happened to you and your family…and even better…to think about the awesome things that you did to help your children.

What special milestones did your children hit this year? My son going off to preschool and showing us how brave and confident he was to head off that first day is a moment I won’t forget. In just his first few months of being in school away from Mom and Dad we have seen incredible growth and maturity and are way more confident in his ability to self-regulate and stand up for himself. He also just lost his first tooth! My daughter turned two and officially left the “baby” stage even though she still sees herself that way. She gave up her binkies and will very soon be done with her crib as well. I can distinctly remember her first full “I love you daddy” also.

What was your biggest parenting win? I’d say this is pretty close between the feeling of pride we had when my son confidently walked into preschool, and making the right call on when to help encourage our daughter to give up her binkies. We worked really hard to help prepare my introverted son to be ready for a social school environment, and I have now successfully picked the right time to encourage and help both of our kids give up their binkies. We may have had a few more sleepless nights with my daughter while she learned new calming strategies, but she did a great job giving them up and only asked for them once or twice after giving them up.

What is your favorite memory you had with your children this year? For me, I remember very fondly our beach vacation we took right in the middle of a busy, stressful time at work. We were able to get away and stay at the coast for a couple of nights as a family and we had a lot of fun. We were able to relax and unwind and just enjoy being together at our favorite place to visit.

So what are you favorite milestones, memories and parenting wins this year? The Parenting Hub would love to hear your family stories. Please send your stories to:

This is fatherhood…