I have only been a father for as long as my oldest son has been alive (some 27 years, 5 months, and 29 days!) Yet, even with all those years of experience, I still consider myself somewhat of a “novice.” My dad never talked to me about what it meant to be a father. I wish he had. I’m sure I could have learned a few things from him that would have helped me (By the way, that’s my dad in the picture. He is no longer with us, and I sure do miss him). Unfortunately I had to “wing it” and do the best I could. I want to share somethings with all the fathers, but this post is especially for those “new” dads or “soon to be” dads. I’m not writing so much to impart some sagacious words of advice, but just to let all the dads know, you can make it and there are others who will be with you on this journey. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
I know the main example you have for what a father is and what he is supposed to do, you see in your own father. I can tell you for certain, that your dad made many mistakes, we all do. But I’m sure they’ve done a few things right. So when you look to them as your example, do those things that you feel have been helpful and discard and forgive them for those that haven’t been. Hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes as they did. Remember, no father, except God the Father, is perfect. You are going to make mistakes just as your dad did. But don’t worry about them and don’t beat yourself up over them. If you are like me, you may not even realize it until years later. Here’s my advice: when you make a mistake “fathering” seek forgiveness and move on. There will be many times you will have to tell your son or daughter that you are sorry for something you did.
There will be times that you disappoint your child, and there will be times your child will disappoint you. That’s just how it is. Whatever you do, never allow disappointments to come between you and your son or daughter. When you disappoint them, and trust me, you will, acknowledge it, seek forgiveness and continue on. When your child disappoints you, and believe me they will, forgive them, even if they don’t ask, and love unconditionally no matter what. Your child is your flesh and blood and the result of a union with someone you love. There will be disappointments, but never let those disappointments “define” your relationship with your children.
I wish it weren’t so, but there will be days where you ask yourself many questions, among them will be: “Can I really do this?” “What am I going to do in this situation?” “What have I done wrong?” and others. The answer is: “Yes, you can do this.” It won’t always be easy, but you will be up to the challenge if you persevere. Some things just aren’t easy. The best and most precious stones are made through extreme heat, time, and great pressure. The same is true with our character and our children. There will be days of discouragement, days you will want to throw up your hands and say: “I can’t do this.” But trust me, you can do it, and you will. Don’t let those days overwhelm you. With God’s grace and the encouragement of your wife and others who love you (like your parents) you will make it and the joy will be great.
Enjoy the moment. It may not make sense, and you may not understand yet, but before you know it, you will wonder “where has the time gone?” You will have to take my word for this. As a 56 year old father, it seems like just a few short years ago that I was in the surgery room waiting for my son to be born and to take their very first breath in this world. I was so happy, so overwhelmed, so excited. I remember going to the mall and getting a special Christmas stocking with his name embroidered on it. Then before I knew it he was grown. Be sure to take the time to enjoy your children! They are a miracle of life. Two people who love each other create a little “bundle of joy” to raise and love. It’s incredible. Enjoy every moment of your time with your children! You can’t “relive” days gone by.
Many people think boys become men when they turn 18 or 21. But I say boys become real men, when they become fathers! I encourage you to take the challenge, embrace the honor and live out the responsibility of what it means to be a dad. Always love, always forgive, and always seek forgiveness. Those will help bring to you the greatest satisfaction and contentment in your life. Remember, never be too proud to come and say to your dad, mom, wife or friend: “I need some help with this fathering thing. What do I do?” They may not have the answer, but they can listen and that may be all you need at the time. Happy Father’s Day!
From one dad to another,