The midwives called me Dad for the first time, when caked in vernix and crying because his safe haven had been so abruptly removed, I cut my son Samuel’s umbilical cord, welcoming him into the world.
I tentatively called myself a Dad, when Samuel cried uncontrollably in the middle night, I stood helpless, not knowing what to do, so I handed him to Kylie and was at her beck and call, helping in anyway that I could.
I was present.
I felt more like a Dad when Samuel was older, as we used to sit on the stoop outside the house and drink Coke Zero, which I told his mum was water.
Three boys later, I am on the journey to becoming a better dad and learning that all dads start as imperfect, selfish and clueless, but through the daily imbalance of life and work, something beautiful is being woven, the Father relationship.
They call me Dad because…
Dad’s fix problems. Whether it is a bloody nose, a flat tire or being penniless overseas after losing all your luggage, Dad’s are there to solve problems.
Dad’s are leaders. They look for opportunities that align with their passion and purpose, to make a difference in the world. They bring this passion home to inspire their children to find their own unique calling.
Dad’s work hard. They leave early in the morning and come home late at night, working to earn a living and provide for their families, sometimes with the uncertainty of the future lurking overhead.
Dad’s are champions of forgiveness. Learning to forgive before the mistake has been made, saying “It will be okay, we’ve got this, I hope you’ve learnt your lesson”. Learning not to sweat the small things and leaning in with unspoken kindness when you’ve made a mistake.
Being a dad means to love unconditionally. No matter what you done and the mess you’ve made, Dad’s are on a learning journey of unconditional love. Whether it was shown to them or they battle worn from an unkind world experience, they call me Dad because I am a warm refuge in an uncertain world, because I was once the Prodigal son.
Dad’s understand that their children are eighteen year research projects and together with mum, it is their job to learn about their children’s tendencies. Read them. Affirm them. Cheerlead them and launch them into the world (Dad time — Max Lucado)
Dad is in love with mum and shows her affection and honours her daily. She giggles when he softly touches her and they both convey a thousand words of love, when they lock eyes. The love story that they are creating provides the fertile ground for children to grow, love and live securely.
Dad’s choose to spend time and be present in their children’s lives. They stay home from work or schedule time alone to discover the little wonders that bear their likeness.
Dads need other Dads
One of greatest encouragement for dads is to be in the wholesome and edifying presence of other dads.
Sharing your experiences, naming your hidden shame, expressing your greatest fear and talking about your bold hope to other dads, is the key to healthy manhood and fatherhood.
Shame grows by believing the lies that lurk inside all of us and keeping it hidden in the shadows, in areas of our lives that no-one sees.
Our shame can be
Our appearance and body image
The way we parent our children
Our hidden addictions
The insecurity about our income or self worth
Our past indiscretions
The trouble in our marriages
And the list could go on… (Daring Greatly — Brene Brown pg 69)
This can lead to the lies falsely determine our worthiness:
“I’m not worth it because of _________”
“I am not a good dad because of __________”
“I don’t deserve love or be loved because of ___________”
We can identify the areas of our lives that can trigger this shame, as the points in which we judge other dads.
I know this because my biggest parenting shames centres around raising my voice and yelling at my boys, nagging and exasperating them at times and being too strict in my discipline.
When I see others dad doing these things, often worse than me, I am sorry to admit, that unhealthy judgement falls into my thinking.
This is not helpful.
Judgement kills any sense of empathy and the building of healthy shame resilience.
One way to build resilience as dads is to engage in encouraging, empathising and learning with other dads.
Dad’s all need empathy, help to walk out of the lies that we sometimes believe about ourselves and to make sense of the mistakes we’ve made.
The one thing I’ve found most helpful is finding other dad’s to debrief with and older and wiser dad’s who’ve raised their children well, to mentor me and guide my parenting journey.
By grace I’ve found a parenting mentor, another older dad who I meet monthly to share and discuss my struggles.
As mum’s can thrive in a mother group, dad’s need other dad’s to help them become better fathers and leaders in their children’s lives.
This is my encouragement to you on Father’s Day 2017.
Open letter to my sons
To Hunter, Benjamin and Samuel
On Father’s day, I write this piece to celebrate our relationship.
It is more precious to me, than riches could ever buy.
Because, love as you will learn are the only things that matter in the end.
I know this because I have seen, many in their last days, surrounded by the people whom they’ve impacted the most and loved unconditionally.
Around their bed, there is celebration of a life well lived, fully engaged and present in the lives of their children.
You are my legacy and my great blessing from God.
And three boys! I am thankful beyond words could ever express.
I know as your Dad, I talk about death often, probably more than a most fathers should!
But it is what I deal with everyday. It is my calling, ministry and livelihood, bestowed upon me by my heavenly Father.
Although all three of you said “Mama” first, I cherished the day you first said “Dada” and called me Dad.
And as you’ve grown and your voices changed, the word “Dad”, when said, is still so sweet and means a great deal to me.
I apologise that in my haste, trying to sometimes process the contents of my day or more often than not, being preoccupied with my selfish pursuits, I’ve not responded to your call.
But I want you to know, I think about you all the time, about the men that you will become and lives that you will impact for God.
It is my privilege, honour and responsibility to teach you about the essence of Godly manhood and the love he has for you.
To love him with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbour is God’s call for the ministry, the purpose and impact your lives will have on this world.
To be salt and light.
And whatever happens, I am so grateful, when I hear you call me….Dad
Thank you for the awesome card this morning.
Enjoy your health