About Dads and Kids and Life Beyond Father's Day

Many of us can remember feeling safe when we placed our hand in the hand of our big, strong father.

Blog. Father. Daughter. 6.14

Whatever dangers might lurk in the shadows, we knew Daddy would protect us and take care of us.

When he held our hand we would go with him wherever he might lead, no questions asked.

Jump off a roof? Sure.

Walk into a raging ocean? Absolutely. Daddy wouldn't let anything harm us.

We thought Daddy could do anything and he knew the answers to every childish question.

Why, Daddy must be the smartest man in the whole wide world!

And then we grew up

Sometime during our teenage years we realized Daddy didn't know everything. He wasn't cool. What's more, he seemed determined to spoil our fun with all his rules. 

Over time we met new people and, as the cliché puts it, we "expanded our horizons."

As we learned and grew we decided now we knew How Things Ought to Be.

This left us even less impressed with Dear Old Dad. He was so out of it. 

Comes the enlightenment

Eventually we became parents ourselves and suddenly we were the one(s) in charge. Whether our child (children) lived or died depended on us.

That's when we understood what every parent comes to know:

The only time any of us knows everything about rearing children is before we have any.

What's more, parenting turned out to be way harder than we ever imagined.

We ached to be perfect parents, but life kept getting in the way. Wanted to be bright and cheery and understanding at all times, but we didn't even come close. Sometimes we even yelled at our beautiful, innocent darlings.

Slowly we grasped the inescapable truth: We flesh-and-blood dads and moms do not have it in us to be perfect.

Neither did our fathers. (Or mothers.)

The only logical conclusion is that most of them did the best they could with what they knew at the time.  

Don't we all do the same? 

What if we decided to be as compassionate and objective with our fathers as we are with everyone else's?

Then we'll see the blessing in what seemed so ordinary.  

  • Daddy was there. We could count on him, so we felt secure. Even if he couldn't be present physically, we knew he was with us in his spirit and his heart.

  • We knew he loved us. We saw it in his smiles, even when he never uttered those three little words.

  • He loved our mom more than us--and we knew it. Theodore Hesburgh said, "The most important thing a father can do for his children is love their mother."

  • Dad tried. Somehow we understood he did the best he knew how and gave what he could.

  • If our father believed in Jesus and tried to live out the Christian faith he set the example for us. Even when we took it for granted. Even when we didn't appreciate it.

If your dad's still breathing, tell him what he longs to hear. Now, while you still can.

Tell him you love him now even more than when you were a child because you better understand what it cost him to be your father.

Tell him you how much you appreciate his love and who he is.

Replay a few happy memories with him and watch his face light up and his smile spread.

Let him know it matters that he lived. Now, while he can hear it. 

If you've had "issues" with your dad, what better time to forgive what's behind you and lay it to rest?

Set aside who's "right" and who's "wrong." Let it go.

Lay your unrest at the cross and be amazed how much lighter you feel.

It may seem a small thing, but . . .

So long as your father lives, you will always be Daddy's "little girl" or "little boy."

That sounds like a cliché but trust me, you'll miss how that makes you feel.

Whatever your father's age, inside he's the same Daddy who lightly placed you on his strong shoulders and made you feel like the luckiest kid around.

Family love doesn't always match our romanticized images, but it's love, just the same.

Our best response to imperfect love is love--and it brings the reward of a heart at peace.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.                                       --1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)



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