I spent all of my teenage years fatherless. I do have some memories of moments shared with my dad, but those are few and far between. Vaguely, I can remember some of the times I spent with him learning to fix things around the house, playing video games on Atari and Nintendo, fishing, and going bowling (this was before they had no smoking in public places and you could see a line in the air from the cigarette smoke).
I wish I could say I had all of these grandiose memories and times that I spent learning what it meant to be a man, a father. It was just ripped away from me before we had the chance to get there.
My dad use to be around from time to time, but it wasn’t the same. Now, we don’t even talk. If we do it becomes a blame game about why our relationship is horrible. It’s hard to pick up where we left off. I’m not the same and so it feels like we are two separate people, on two different planets when in fact we are in the same room.
For the last 26 years, it has been hard to be in conversation with people when they talk about how amazing their dad is or tell tales of adventures they have shared. There is a sense of envy, when a friend says they are going to grab lunch with their dad. It hurts deep down when someone tells me that their dad is their best friend.
What’s that like?
What is a father suppose to be in someone’s life?
Here in lies the reason it took me several years, 10 to be exact, to be ready for Alissa and me to have kids. I honestly didn’t know what a father was suppose to be like. What is a father suppose to be? I was a little afraid that since I didn’t have a father present for most of my life, I would mess up as a father myself.
How do you teach a boy to be a man?
How do you treat a girl properly?
What does a dad do for his kids in a way a mom cannot?
To be honest, these are still some of the questions that keep me up at night.
How do I do this fathering thing?
Who can I turn to?
How does the fatherless learn to be a father?
I can’t say that I have learned everything I know on my own, nor that I don’t make mistakes from time to time. I have had some pretty incredible father figures that I have met throughout my life. Seeing how they interact with their kids built confidence that I could do the same. I’ve always known that I’d want to emulate some of those characteristics I see in their relationships.
A wise man isn’t someone who learns only from his own mistakes, but someone who also learns from the mistakes of others.
Ultimately, looking at how God loves us and is our Heavenly Father is the best way for me to learn as I go. There really is no greater example.
So, I’ve jumped into fatherhood with both feet. My son is 5 and my daughter is 2. I’m not perfect. I’m not called to be perfect, just called do the best I can.
I’ve learned to be the father I always wish I had. I try not to take for granted any of the moments I have with both of my kids. Being a dad is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it also the most rewarding. I do my best to put their needs ahead of my own.
I want my kids to learn that I will always be there for them and they can always count on me. My goal is to help them experience life and be adventurous. I want them to see that it is ok for a dad to be soft and kind to them, and to also know I mean business when I correct them. I want to make memories with them that we can talk about for years to come. My kids always know they are not a far away thought from my mind, but that I care deeply for them and would do absolutely anything for them.
I finally understand why God loves me so much and would send Jesus to die for me. Everything that I want for my kids, He wants for me and even more.
How can a fatherless man become an incredible father?
I’m not exactly sure, but I’ll let you know when I get there.