Being Dad is one of the most rewarding, frustrating, and terrifying things a man can go through. Each stage of parenthood takes on a whole new set of challenges and surprises. With these new challenges and surprises, there is always an opportunity for personal growth though. I have a Bachelor and Master of Arts, but the information and lessons I’ve learned in parenthood have given me something that no degree could ever give.
As a father, I am continually asking myself, “What exactly is a good father?” What makes a father good or bad? Am I a good father? The answers to these questions vary from culture to culture, and even from generation to generation, but something my three-year-old said the other day made me proud of the father that I am and becoming.
Since my oldest started kindergarten, we have had some amazing conversations as a family. She is being introduced to a whole new world of questions and ideas which has impacted our younger son. The topic at hand the other day was what she wanted to be when she grew up. This wasn’t a “new” conversation. We have discussed this topic many times in our household. My oldest daughter said that she wants to work with her mom, which is spectacular because my wife is an associate preschool minister at our church. My son’s response, however, was new. He said that he wanted to be a dad.
At first, this took me by surprise. I wanted to react and ask him was he wanted to “do” for a living—what he wanted his job to be. Then I hesitated and thought about it for a beat. It’s not the typical three-year-old response, but those words echoed in my mind. Being a dad is a job. It’s the most honorable job that a man can do. Instead of correcting him, I looked into his big blue eyes and said, “That’s awesome, buddy. You can definitely be a dad when you grow up.”
As a dad who mostly works from home, I have the incredible opportunity to spend a lot of time with my kids. Most days are great, but as any parent knows, there are some days when I want to pull my hair out and make my kids play in their rooms quietly for the rest of the day. It never comes to that, mind you, but those thoughts do creep up from time to time. There are days when I question my ability as a dad and look at myself as an utter failure. Sometimes I am a failure. I’m not, nor will ever be the perfect parent, but that recognition has given me the perspective to strive to be better.
When my son exclaimed that he wanted to be a dad, for me it was more than just a funny response. It showed me that I was indeed doing something right. The fact that I’ve made such an impression as a dad, that my son wants to be what I am when he grows up, is humbling. It’s my hope and prayer that I can be the dad that he wants to be someday. I know that as he grows, this might not always be the case, but as of right now it’s a win for me.
To dads reading this out there, may this be both challenging and an encouragement. Cherish the “little wins” in parenting. When you are having a tough day, and the kids just don’t want to listen, hold fast to the cherishable moments. Remember, no one has ever been a perfect parent, but we can always be better. May our kids see us and say, “I want to be a dad.”