In the month of June, we celebrate Father’s Day here in the United States. While Father’s Day surely evokes a myriad feelings in both kids and parents of varying family situations, it’s a relationship in life that’s important to examine and learn from, but I won’t delve into those complex nuances here. 

Instead, I want to make a tribute to Fatherhood – a tribute for which I needed outside perspective. I’m not a parent yet, but parents’ roles in teaching children to be independent, responsible, and of good character is something at which I already feel immense weight.  But it set me wondering, in teaching their kids so much, do parents learn things, too?  I found 5 dads who have kids of varying ages and experiences, and asked them this question:

Dads, what’s something your kids have taught you? 

“One thing my kids have taught me is not to be afraid of failure.  It is fun to see my girls try something new and fail (wait, that did not come out right…), to watch them struggle or even completely fail at something that they are trying to accomplish, and then get right back up and try it again.  They keep going, and you know, they get better.  Before long, they seem like pros who have been doing it for years. 

My kids have shown me what it’s like to live life not worrying about quick success or failure.

– Justin W.

I’ve seen this repeated time and time again, since they were trying to sit up and walk.  The challenges have gotten harder, but the mindset of my girls has held strong.  When we get older, we slow down takings risks (both big and small).  We tend to be so afraid to fail, so we just don’t try at all.  I am thankful that my kids have shown me what it is like to live life not worrying about quick success, or even failure.– Justin W.

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“Before you have kids, everyone has a ridiculous amount of advice they would like to share with you on how to best raise your kids. All of it is well-meaning, but having my own kids now, I realize that every kid and every parent is a unique individual that makes all of those relationships just as uniquely individual. Figure out what works best for your family, and yes, it’s more like learning-as-you-go more than anything. Surround your family with others that will be present in their lives and reinforce the values you want your kids to emulate.” – Brett R.

Every kid and every parent is a unique individual, [and] that makes all of those relationships uniquely individual.

– Brett R.

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“Within the journey of raising two boys, I have been humbled by various experiences along the way. One example is the utter confidence that my oldest son Cyrus, who is 4 years old, has when he approaches me to meet one of his needs. I have noticed that when I tell Cyrus that “daddy will take care of it”, at that very moment, he knows that whatever “it” is as good as done! This is humbling because I know that my son’s confidence is unconditional!

Shouldn’t faith be unconditional ALL THE TIME, as our heavenly Father’s love for us is all the time?

– Manuel M.

I often wonder how life would be like for me if EVERY TIME I approach my heavenly Father to meet one of my needs, I could walk away with the uttermost confidence that it is as good as done, at that very moment! Then, I am humbled because I know that I often go to my heavenly Father more than once about a particular need. Of course, I am also reminded that there are expectations of “good behavior” in between every request. However, a father’s love is unconditional. Shouldn’t faith be just as unconditional ALL THE TIME, as our heavenly Father’s love for us is all the time? This lesson that Cyrus has taught me reminds me why Jesus’ said that we must be like children, in order to enter the kingdom of God.” – Manuel M.

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“When my kids were born, they took me to another dimension. They taught me all about this new dimension of fatherhood, which I knew of because I had a father myself, but I had never been one. When my first child popped out (I was watching!), I felt the new dimension viscerally. There was love and loyalty and unity and connectivity I never knew before. 

I also felt vulnerable for the first time. Before, I was always completely fearless, thinking the worst someone could do to me was kill me. So what? But as a father, someone could now truly hurt me by hurting my children. I had never felt this before. But the vulnerability is good, as it teaches me to trust God. All these powerful dynamics of a new dimension should be no surprise. The center of all being, of all reality, is the “Father and the Son” along with the Holy Spirit. Fatherhood is everything, the core, the center, the absolute. And when I entered into it, I felt it.” – Dean A.

Vulnerability is good, as it teaches me to trust God.

– Dean A.

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“Of all the accomplishments God has blessed me with in my life, being a “Dad” to my three kids is one that I am most proud of. Being given the responsibility by God to raise Lauren, Trevor, and Chipper was humbling, frightening, exciting, and exhausting (sometimes all at the same time).  I have learned so much through each of my kids.  All three of them have always been respectful, loving, responsible, and had a strong desire to please us and grow in their relationship with Jesus.  

Having a daughter as our firstborn taught me to step outside my comfort zone many times. I got to learn all things “girly” (I was the oldest of four boys in my family), and I was amazed at how much Lauren pushed herself to excel in all things athletic and academic. She is now a teacher of children (that doesn’t surprise me at all) and I’m excited to see how God is using her to invest in the lives of children.  

Trevor always kept me on my toes.  Always adventurous and willing to try something new, Trevor’s inquisitiveness stretched me and made me become more than I ever thought I could be.  The fact that he is a 1st Lt in the US Army Rangers swells my heart with pride and has definitely kept my prayer life intense at times.  

Our firstborn taught me to step outside my comfort zone. [Our middle child was] always adventurous and willing to try something new. [Our youngest] challenged me to not settle for mediocrity.

– Ted G.

Chipper, being hearing-impaired and thriving in life despite his disability, has really challenged me to not settle for mediocrity.  He never let his struggles and obstacles stand in his way, and that encouraged me to do the same. He is so skilled and talented.  

Proverbs 23:24 says “Parents rejoice when their children turn out well; wise children become proud parents.”  I don’t know if my mom and dad would describe me as a wise child (maybe a “wise guy,” however), but I do know that my three kids have truly made me a proud parent. I definitely rejoice knowing that I would not be who I am today without their influence in my life.  It’s no secret… I am a VERY proud parent.” – Ted