Fatherhood is a big job, with a lot of work involved. After all, what task is more important for a man than raising up the next generation of men?
Depending on your definition of father, either I am one or I will become one soon.
My wife is due to give birth to our first child (a son) in late August, and this past Sunday was my first Father’s Day to celebrate as one of the dads.
I had the chance to spend some time with my dad on Sunday, and reflect on how much he’s taught me—as well as how much I still need to learn.
My dad is nowhere near perfect, but he doesn't pretend to be—and that's what I've come to respect the most.
Right away, I can think of seven specific practices I've picked up from my dad's example, which I'm going to need in order to become a father worthy of my children's love.
- Provision. My dad is the sole provider for my family, and has been for over 25 years. From working alongside him, I know it’s tough work—but you wouldn’t know that from how rarely he ever complains. Today, both parents work in nearly half of all married-couple families in the US. That's becoming the norm, but my parents made sacrifices to make sure my mom could take care of us kids at home.
- Persistence. At just over 50 years old, my dad is the smartest college dropout I’ve ever met. He never stops finding new ways to pick up additional knowledge or learn a new skill. Thanks to his encouragement, I graduated college—and never stopped learning, reading dozens of books every year.
- Prioritizing. Family comes first—my dad has always made that clear. Despite the fact that my dad ran his own business (where he works over 50 hours a week), he always found time for movie nights or Boy Scout trips. He even matched my savings when I paid for my first car. Thanks to my dad's example, I'm always looking for ways to spend quality time with my wife (and soon, will do the same with my son).
- Passion. If you want to see my dad get excited, bring up a topic he cares about—such as religion, politics, or the history of war. He's taken the time to develop his opinions, and has countless stories that help others see his point of view. After growing up with my dad's passionate beliefs, apathy wasn't an option. I've pursued my own passions, and learned much along the way.
- Peacefulness. Over the years, my dad has come to exude more and more a sense of peace. He provides an immense sense of comfort to our family, with the peace of mind and safety that his presence brings. I'm convinced that this peace comes from my dad's commitment to taking care of himself, by waking up early or coming home a bit late to build in time he can spend by himself.
- Patience. I come from a loud family of six, and my dad is the quietest one of us all. He patiently listens, and waits until he's ready to talk—but the minute he speaks we all go silent, eager to hear what he has to say. From this, I've learned the impact that selective silence can bring. Choose your words carefully, and you're immediately more likely to be heard.
- Protection. My dad does his best to keep his children from the ugliest parts of the world—first with my brother and I, and now with our two younger sisters. Early on, my parents got rid of TV and put limits on our computer and gaming time. This helped us develop discipline and manage our free time each day.As I got older, that learned discipline has helped me succeed in jobs, school, and with personal finances.
Looking back, I'm incredibly grateful. Without all that my father gave me, I'm not sure where I would be today.
I'm not yet a phenomenal father, but at least I have an idea of what it takes.
- Provision for those who matter most
- Persistence even when the going gets tough
- Prioritizing to keep the family first
- Passion, which inspires others to dream
- Peacefulness to navigate the difficulties of life
- Patience with the ones you love
- Protection from the trappings of the world
Question: What have you learned from the father figures in your life?