By Rob Furlong
One of the things I love to do most is pray a blessing over a new born child. Many times I have observed that a new baby transforms men who like to think that they are "tough and masculine" into someone unable to conceal their total delight in their child, "gooing and gaaing" over everything their baby does and proudly showing them off to every person within earshot!
Of course, reality soon sets in. There are nappies to change, a crying baby that you have to cradle in your arms as you walk up and down the hallway while your wife catches up on some much needed sleep and in time, you have to start trying to tame the spirit of a rebellious two-year-old.
At some point we men can all lose the joy of being "Dad"! So as a dad and now a grandfather here is what I have learned about trying to keep the joy alive in being dad.
Don't sweat the small stuff! If I could go back and change my parenting style as a young father this is a piece of advice that I would adhere to from day one. I wasted far too much time picking my kids up on insignificant things such as when they knocked their drink over or fidgeted too much at the table. They were just being kids and kids make these sort of mistakes...and so do adults. I learned this lesson well one night on a family outing to Sizzler restaurant. After three drinks being spilled by children in about 10 minutes I angrily declared that if there was another spill we would all be going home. Guess who spilled the next drink? Yes, me and although embarrassed by my mistake it was a lesson in humility that I needed!
Don't be afraid to admit you are wrong. I was raised in a family where admitting you were wrong and apologising for it was not consistently modelled. At best it would be a quick apology that simply said, "I'm sorry you were hurt but I didn't mean it" with the intention of moving on from the "unpleasantness" as quickly as possible. Over my years as a dad I found enormous freedom in apologising to my kids sincerely when I had wronged them and acknowledging that the hurt they felt was both justified and real. And I am proud to see my now grown children model this same integrity to their own children.
Love your kid's mother. In other words, love your wife genuinely and from the heart. Your wife is not perfect, she has her flaws and she makes mistakes. But here is a piece of wisdom that you may not have realised...you are just the same! If you constantly criticise her in front of your children, make fun of character traits that she cannot change or worse, verbally or physically abuse her, then you are sowing the seeds of destruction for your family that will fully bloom when your children are adults.
Over and over again I see generations of families where this is true – deeply ingrained and disturbing patterns of insecurity, instability and abuse that can be traced back to men who did not model to their children anything that even remotely resembled love for their wives.
Above all, model your values to them. Despite my imperfections and weaknesses I wanted my kids to know that my highest value in life is that I knew and loved Jesus, and He had forgiven and rescued me, and little by little He was working on my flaws and changing me. I did not model perfection but I did try to show them a faith that could be honest about my flaws while still aspiring to be more like Jesus in my character. There is no point faking this part of your life – kids see straight through it!
So as you celebrate another Father's Day make it your aim to get back the joy you experienced when you first became a dad. Your kids and wife will thank you for it and I'm tipping that you will like the change as well! Happy Father's Day!