Recently, I have been spending time considering what it has meant to be a dad. With Father’s Day coming in June, I would like to share some of my thoughts. Anyone who has been a parent understands that challenges and frustrations come with the job description. Parenting also brings joys and potential heartaches. I have found being a dad to be worth every risk. Three thoughts sum up most of my reflections.
1. You never stop being a dad.
As you hold that “little bundle of joy” for the first time, you have just made a 20-year commitment. With your help, your child will be piloted from a helpless infant, to a terrible toddler, and on to becoming a young man or young lady. Each step of the way, there are hurdles to overcome and dangers to defend against. As your offspring reach adulthood, you expect to stop parenting. This is rarely the case. Witnessing the growth of your child through young adulthood into middle age seems fraught with as many hazards as childhood. Parenting opportunities seem to constantly spring up. Grown children may seek you for advice, physical help, and of course, money.
2. Dads have limits that they have to learn.
I was an involved parent. No parent/teacher conference was missed. Very few sporting, musical, or academic events were skipped. As adults, children do not always need you to show up. Just knowing that you are available when needed is generally enough. The time comes when all children want to be able to make their own mistakes and fight their own battles, no matter how painful. Allowing this is a hard call for a caring dad. The short story is that you have to let your children become self-sufficient, even if you are sure that your way is better.
3. You need your children as much as they need you.
The day comes when nearly every dad needs someone to be there. I have reached a stage of life where help from my parents and siblings is no longer available. It is hard to describe the effort required to reach down the family tree instead of up for assistance. Over the years, I have enjoyed having younger people known as my children. Now more often than not, I am known as their dad. If I am honest, I feel good about this. The Bible speaks truly in Psalm 127:3 when it says, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” (NIV).