Fatherhood is a complicated word. Yes, the dictionaries tend to simplify it down to “the state of being a father” where father is “the male parent of one or more children.” Fatherhood is so much more than this boiled down skeleton. It’s a vast ocean with soaring waves of elation and depths so dark one wonders if he can ever find the surface again. You know what I’m talking about?
But even in the midst of the highs and lows, there’s a continuity of purpose. Kids cannot thrive without parents, and having both is best. No matter how basic the definition, a father’s job is of utmost importance and can’t be disregarded when it comes to the emotional development of boys and girls. The point is that dads make a difference. You matter.
My own dad has made a huge difference in my life, and every day I’m thankful for him. He’s always been a hard worker. He performed difficult, taxing work with unpleasant hours and all with very little gratitude shown from his young children. We may not have understood why he did what he did then, but eventually kids grow up and discover true appreciation. I know I did.
Often, fatherhood probably feels like a thankless job, but don’t give up. You are making a difference every day you show up, every day you give a smile, a hug, a word of encouragement, and even a boundary of right versus wrong. Every little nuance of fatherhood plays into the success of your children.
One sometimes overlooked part of being a dad that made a huge impact on me was how my own father invited me into his life; his pursuits; his free time. Instead of keeping hobbies he enjoyed to himself he welcomed us into his favorite activities like swimming laps at 4 AM at the local pool, fishing during derby season, and computer games just to name a few.
Knowing how he enjoyed such activities and that he wanted to involve me in them made me feel special, connected, and noticed. It’s especially nice when you both like the same pursuits, but your kids will appreciate being included in the activity you enjoy because they know you like it. And if you include them then it means you’re willing to share that exclusive time with them.
It’s amazing how that simple act of inclusion can make such a huge impact.
Ultimately, there’s more to being a father than just having kids. Making them a part of what may seem insignificant in your life can go a long way to strengthening your relationship, while exemplifying the fact that fatherhood is not as basic as the definition may imply.
Being a dad is the most important job you’ll ever have, but you can make it a great one by including your kids in your life in big and small ways. My dad taught me that, not by words but by actions, and I’m grateful.
I’m rooting for you!