What My Dad Did Right
Coffee dates. Family trips. Conversation. Monday Night Football. Holidays. Traditions. Devotionals.
These are just a few rewards I continue to reap because of the seeds my dad started sowing many years ago. A dad can have a great relationship with a son. But the relationship between a dad and his daughter…
There is nothing like it.
Unfortunately for many of you reading today, this is far from your story. For that I truly am sorry. On the plus side, if you are a parent, no matter how your past was written, you have the choice to write a new story for your family. If you are already being that solid example, keep making tough choices. While I am just starting out on the journey of parenthood I have years of experience being a child. And speaking as one who has the best dad in the world, your efforts will not go unnoticed.
As for my dad, I am smiling from ear to ear and thinking, “How much time do you have?” It’s hard to imagine I could think any more highly of him than I do, and the reasons why are easy to talk about. All of these things that my dad did right can be practiced by any parent. But I believe these are especially important for dads as they are the leader of the home, the head of the family.
- My dad prayed with me every night. That was always part of the bedtime routine. He would tuck my sister and me into bed, get on his knees, and pray. We still pray before bed many nights when we are home visiting.
- My dad would stop to listen. I would often go home for lunch during high school. Since he worked from home we had many opportunities to talk. He would stop anything he was doing, turn around (which told me I was important), and listen. We continue to have good communication to this day.
- My dad did not overreact. I could go to him about anything and he would remain calm. He was a safe place. And in the event that he felt he reacted poorly to a situation he would apologize. The humility required for a father to admit when he is wrong is a rare strength. The times he needed to concede failure were few and far between, in large part because he sought first to understand then to be understood.
- My dad led by example. To this day my dad is who you see no matter the situation. I guess genuine would be the word. He doesn’t just talk about being a Christian or making wise decisions or working hard, he lives it every day. He puts belief into action.
- My dad gave advice while allowing me to choose. He would lead and guide but ultimately I would have decide how to handle situations. For example, the summer after my senior year of high school I had to choose between two universities. I was torn and thought it would be easier for him to make the decision for me. While I’m sure he would have loved to do that (especially when my school of choice took me twelve hours away from home), he didn’t. My dad helped me to sort through the pros and cons but ultimately left the decision in my hands.
- My dad would say no. At first glance this may contradict the previous point but remember he was still the parent. And “no” happens to be a complete statement that many parents have failed to recognize is in their vocabulary. My freshman year of high school I was invited to the Junior/Senior banquet by a senior. I was beyond excited only to be left devastated (yes, devastated is the word for that teenage girl) when my dad told me I would not be attending. Really? Or how about that cute tank top I thought I was wearing out for the afternoon? Nope. I begrudgingly marched to my room to change. Parents often need to stand for their kids in a way that may not make sense until years later. I knew exactly where my dad stood. And because he was strong enough to say no, he saved me from situations I didn’t even know I needed saving from.
- My dad never put sports above church. My dad and I love watching football together. Sunday afternoon games were sandwiched between church services. And while it was hard to stop watching in the middle of a game, especially when the Cowboys were playing (ahh, the glory days of the 90s), I vividly remember him turning off the television when it was time for church. Or during weekend volleyball matches we would work around church services. He never put anything ahead of being with the family of believers, sporting events included.
- My dad let other people parent us. Obviously, this was never in place of him being the parent. But we knew it was totally possible that another parent may tell us to quit talking in church or to get rid of that bad attitude. And if another adult told my parents that we had behaved poorly, we would face the consequences of those actions. Today, lines seem to be blurred as to who is in charge, the parent or the child. “It takes a village to raise a child” was entirely true in my youth. Not only was this acceptable but my dad welcomed it.
- My dad was present at almost every activity. I cannot remember one time that I was disappointed because he missed an event. And I do not just mean he was physically present but mentally somewhere else (like being on his phone). Not only was he there, he made me feel that he genuinely wanted to be. Making every event your child ever has may not be realistic. But making every effort to be there is.
- My dad talked to me about the hard stuff. Yep, this included the sex talk. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough. If possible, sons and daughters need to learn about the tough stuff from their parents. And through these discussions ultimately of purity, I was shown my value and worth. If daughters do not learn of their significance from their dad (or another godly person if their dad is not present), they will search for it in the wrong places. Dads, do what is uncomfortable and have those tough conversations.
- My dad trusted me. He always said I had his trust until I lost it. And I never wanted to lose it. This at times made my hypersensitive to all my choices. But his trust empowered me to make wise choices. To this day that voice in my head…it is difficult at times to tell if it is my dad or the Holy Spirit. They sound a lot alike.
- My dad is an earthly picture of my heavenly Father. My dad is not perfect; none of us are. But I have almost thirty years of experiencing just a glimpse of the love God has for us as his children. And my dad is the primary reason for that.
Do you notice a trend in all of these things my dad did right? Not one of them has to do with his choice in career or money or possessions or the town I grew up in. The underlying cause for all the rights comes back to our belief as Christians. Through all of these actions he taught us of Jesus, the ultimate person he was trying to emulate.
So dads, if you hear nothing else today, if you skimmed and ended up at the last paragraph, hear this: my dad loves Jesus. This…this is the foundation of everything he did right then and continues to do right today
The only right that matters? Be Jesus to your family. And all the other rights will be added as well.