I’m not a father, but I have a father.
Yesterday I pondered how I could honor my dad and I ended up writing this on facebook.
As the day went on I thought about the characteristics of a good dad and this thought came to mind.
Good dads are not born. Good dads are forged through daily choice of selflessness. (Read: opposite of selfishness) And the conscious choice to pursue their children.
I recently saw a video of a friend dancing with his daughter at a father daughter ball. I know this guy, and I know that he LOVES his daughter, and I know that under no other circumstance would he dance. But for his daughter he would.
I don’t know if it’s the older I get the more selfish I become, or if it’s my self awareness that is growing, but I have the capacity to be real selfish. And it gets more and more apparent that I have to make conscious choices to to not live that way.
I don’t like dancing either. Probably because I’m self conscious. I don’t like doing things I’m not good at. I don’t like making a spectacle of myself. But if it mattered to my child, would I make the sacrifice to do something that I deemed foolish or outside of my comfort zone for them?
I talked with a friend recently about his relationship with his dad. He said that he and his dad got along great until about middle school. And thats when my friend got interested in sports, his dad wasn’t interested and they stopped connecting.
Good dads make a choice to pursue their children.
We have to make sacrifices to connect. It’s pride and fear that stands in the way. If I don’t know about something my child is interested in will I take the time and energy to learn it along side of them?
I feel like mothering comes more naturally to women. I’m not so sure that fathering is natural to men.
Everyone instinctively knows the characteristics of a good dad. But I’m not sure that everyone could point to a man with those characteristics.
I wrote about how my dad chose to give me the nicer cars growing up. That’s a selfless act. I don’t even know why he did that, it doesn’t make sense.
My dad lost his job when I was 4 and went to work for mcdonalds. At four years old you don’t know any different. Now in hindsight, that had to have been a serious blow to his pride, but he did what had to be done.
I’ve written about this before but on my 18th birthday my parents took me to TGIFridays for a birthday meal. My dad looked across the table and asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him I wanted to be a rock star and he responded “lets make it happen.”
He allowed and encouraged me to pursue that path. A sacrifice. My dad was the first person in his family to get a college education. And none of his children did. The pursuit of rock star didn’t last to long, but led me to another non traditional “career.” A missionary.
It seems a lot of men have big dreams for their kids. Big dreams that might not actually their kids dreams. My dad championed me in mine, and he still does today.
The pursuit part is the hard part. Connecting.
Whenever my dad and I see one another we spend time just the two of us going on a walk and talking. Sometimes I iniaite the hey lets go for walk, and sometimes he does.
Maybe that’s our role as adult children. Whether your dad pursued you or not, you can now pursue relationship with him. What do we need to sacrifice to find ways to connect with our parents?
The last thing about dads thats coming to mind as I write this is them as a protector. I remember one summer being elementary school age at a public pool. A kid I didn’t know decided he was going to pick on me, he was climbing on me and rough housing. I was doing my best to hold my own but this kid had the upper hand. Then out of no where my dad is standing on the side of the pool yelling at this kid. Dads are our protectors too.
I’m not a dad yet, but not much changes without self assessment and tangible goals. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves.
Am I living selflessly towards my family?
How can I better live more selflessly towards my family?
Am I pursing my wife and children?
How can I better pursue my wife and children?
Am I protecting my family?
How can I better protect my family?
I appreciate that my dad choses to live selflessly, and still pursues me today. I look forward to our next walk dad.