Why Having an Involved Dad Really Matters

Barcus697

 

Recently I was asked what it was like to have my dad as my dad. He’s become sort of a known person in my corner of the world; he’s a life coach, counselor, and public speaker. Some of his favorite topics involve parenting and the do’s and don’ts of raising kids. He is not a “know it all” but an “I’ve been there”. And he’s most certainly NOT the “if you can’t do, teach.” He’s the, ” I did, I failed, I succeeded, and I kept on trying.” And that last part..the kept on trying part…is what I like best about my dad.

 

 

When I hear people speaking on these topics, I often wonder what their home life is. That if their kids were sitting in the audience, would they agree? Or would they get up and walk out? As for us, my dad gets to speak on the topic of parenting with my full respect and credibility. We have a fantastic relationship now, one of closeness and intimacy, one of love and mutual respect. I can tell my dad practically anything…. But it wasn’t always that way.

 

 

 

We were close in my younger years, and then about pre-teen into teen years we drifted apart. Part of this was because we were so similar in so many ways and you could hear the clash from miles away. The other part is that he was always up in my business. What movie are you going to see with your friends? What bathing suit are you going to buy? What boy are you talking to on the phone? We don’t talk like that in this family. If you made a commitment, you need to stick to it. Who are you going out with tonight? Blah Blah Blaaaah.

 

That guy had his nose in my personal life, and let me tell you, at age 15, I deserved some privacy, am I right??

 

As much as I pushed him away, he didn’t budge. My dad’s refusal to check out made all the difference in my life and in our relationship.

 

 

We went through days of silence at times when we couldn’t agree. I had mastered the art of passive aggressive behavior and he had mastered the art of not backing down. He endured the silent treatment many times, never letting go of what he stood for both as the man of our house and as my father.

 

 

My sweet mother played peacemaker (aka referee) to many a battle that challenged her sanity as well as every ounce of patience she had. Truth be told, neither my dad or I chose our battles very well, so she played a big part in weeding out the small stuff.

 

But bottom line is that my dad did more than stick around; he stayed involved, engaged, and made it his business to be in my business until I reached adulthood when he could slowly take steps back. He took the job of shepherding me very seriously, and it shaped not only my younger years, but gave me a smoother path to walk forward into adulthood…

 

 

Dating…

 

My dad took me on my first date. Something that–at that time–I was really embarrassed about. It seemed goofy and weird and different.

 

 

Over the years I began to enjoy it. My car door being opened for me, a dinner out just he and I. And every dinner he made sure to tell me that he was praying for my husband and with teary eyes would say that I needed to “find a man that loved me more than he did.” I didn’t quite know what to do with that when I was 13, but now I just tear up myself and say a prayer of thanks.

 

 

Dating is a definitely an area that requires attention to detail. Forbidding to date won’t do any good, and neither will standing in the yard with a shot gun {does anyone actually do that??}. It’s a time in a young person’s life to acknowledge that they’re going to hang out with the opposite sex whether you approve it or not, so the more you prepare them, the better off they will be. Keep asking questions. Model appropriate date behavior. Have the most awkward conversations ever {my dad was no stranger to these, either!}. Stay involved like it’s your business, because it is. My dad was fantastic at giving age appropriate freedoms while staying in the know. The art of parenting during dating years is an acquired skill, but absolutely worth doing well.

 

 

Be in the world, but not of it…

 

… a biblical challenge that sounds good in theory, but is really tricky in parenting. Why wouldn’t I want to do alllll of the things the other kids get to do? Why shouldn’t I be allowed to watch PG-13 movies when I’m in 5th grade? Why can’t I wear that?! We fought about appropriate clothing, movies, activities, technology (as scarce as it was back then) and I was continuously the loser with the strict parents that wouldn’t let me blend in with the crowd.

 

And don’t tell them I said this, but I am so thankful now.

 

 

I grew up in a house that taught biblical principles and relied on a church community. Not that this may be your choice or your parent’s choice, but it was ours. There isn’t a blueprint for what is right and wrong, but my parents stood by their convictions and were infuriatingly unwavering. My dad believed that in his 40’s he was wiser than me in my teen years, and praise God for that.

 

Honor your commitments…

 

My dad taught me that you are your word. When you commit to something, there is no going back on it. And he didn’t just say this, he lived it. He was a man that followed through on his word whether enjoyable, convenient, easy or challenging.

 

Lessons like these are only valuable when you get to see them lived out. When he said he would be there, he was. When he told me discipline was coming, I knew I would not go unpunished. When he said he would spend time with me, he did. And when I made commitments to a team, a friend, or work of any sort, he made sure I saw it through. Which has paid off in my adult years in countless ways. I was watching more than I was listening, so to see him live out the same principles he was teaching me had incredible impact.

 

 

 

Love is unconditional…

 

I did not grow up in a house where love was earned. Love was given…freely, unconditionally, and consistently. I never felt I had to do anything to earn my dad’s love, or that if I did the wrong thing, I would lose it. It’s back to that art of parenting…I wasn’t “over parented” to where my performance and choices dictated the favor I would receive, but I wasn’t “under parented” either. “I love you” was said frequently, hugs were an everyday sign of affection, and even after I made poor choices, love and consequences came at the same time.

 

 

I never once wondered if my dad loved me, how much he loved me, or if he would go to the ends of the earth for me. He is unashamedly mushy, teary, and soft to his core. We have home videos in which my sister and I pinned barrettes into his hair while he sat there and pretended to enjoy it {and deep down really did}. My dad was the kind of dad that played barbies and tried desperately to help us leave the house with matching clothes and combed hair {he often asked if we wanted him to braid it…and I’m not sure what he would’ve done had we ever actually said yes}. I respectfully feared his discipline, but knew that at the root of everything he did was a heart bursting at the seams with love and care for me.

 

 

 

I spent some time either feeling bad that I had a dad who stuck around while my friend’s dads didn’t, or feeling strange that my dad was so integrated into my life. But now…now I am absolutely thankful for my dad and the ways he challenged me, disciplined me, corrected me, called me to a higher standard.

 

 

He taught me how to invest in people and what to look for in a husband. He taught me honesty, integrity, and what it means to be a hard worker. He gave it his all in teaching me about cars, but some things just did’t stick.

 

 

He taught me what it meant to believe in God, and then how to walk with Him. He taught me to be imaginative, creative, and to pursue my passions.

 

 

And he loves me fiercely.

 

 

A dad like that, my dad, is a rare, wonderful, and priceless gift. And trust me, I don’t take it for granted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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