Much has been said about the benefits of involved fathers to children. This factor in itself should be enough of an incentive for being involved. Yet, not much is said about the benefits to fathers of being involved in their children’s life.
This is a side I have discovered through experience. Now, with three young children (two daughters and a son) in tow, I can boldly say that being actively involved in their lives has made me a better man. Not only that, but it has expanded my world and enriched my purpose on this earth.
“How so?” you may ask.
Firstly, it gave me a renewed thirst for learning.
Seeing my children discover the world reminded me of the pure joy of learning. Randomly, my daughters will bring up a new factoid they learned from school or some educational show they watched. The subjects range from fossils to flossing, but their enthusiasm about it is contagious. The sparkle in their eyes tells me that nothing should be taken for granted. The world is filled with treasures, if only we have the eyes to see it. Inspired by them, I have committed to lifelong learning. We are never too old to master a new skill, discover a new fact or read a new book.
Secondly, it shed light on my own shortcomings, forcing me to grow as a person.
Often, the things my children do that irritate me have more to do with my own issues than with theirs. My exasperation with our baby boy’s persistent cry had less to do with him than with my inability to comfort him. To see the girls fight and argue with each other reminds me of my own attempts to negotiate difficult balances in my relationships. Even their reactions to each other–the tendency to scream or withdraw, expressing the need for approval and disappointment, crying and laughing–all encourage me to be honest about the emotions I often lock up inside.
I always admire my children’s ability to “leave it all on the field” emotionally. This attitude keeps them from growing resentment and bitterness in the long run. Of course, it would not be feasible to have adults throwing tantrums every time they get frustrated. Yet, we can all learn to be more honest with our true feelings. Maybe some crying, yelling, and grunting may save us from future stomach ulcers and countless therapy sessions.
Thirdly, they opened new worlds I had never explored before.
My daughters introduced me to Disney princess movies, something I certainly would not have paid attention to before. At first, I entered their fairytale world reluctantly, only to discover meaning in their stories. Friendship, honesty, and courage are universal values we should all be reminded of. Seeing them zealously care for their dolls shows me that I should care more for others. Above all, they teach me that friendships really are that important. As the wise snowman Olaf would say, “Some people are worth melting for.”
Finally, my children help me know God more deeply.
While my love for them will never compare to God’s love for each of us, it does express a glimpse of it. The joy I feel in seeing them grow and develop is endless. Many times, it’s not about what they do or say, but simply that they exist in my life. That is the closest thing I’ve ever felt to unconditional love, the very trait that makes God’s love for us so unfathomable.
As family roles evolve and more moms work outside of the home, I hope dads can embrace the opportunity to discover the joys of childrearing. It is a job for all of us that we ignore at our own peril. I hope for a day when we have the same amount of dad’s blogs as mom’s blogs. Where being an involved parent has less to do with one’s gender and more with one’s willingness to embrace the mystery, the joy, the toil, the tears, and the fulfillment of parenthood.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. Was your father involved in your life when you were a child?
2. How can fathers be more present in their children’s lives?
3. If you are a father, what have you learned from your children?