Her personal journey and how fathers can be more present with their children
The time we are in right now is such a transitional time for so many dads. Many dads were at home with their children for the past few months due to COVID-19. I am sure many have had the opportunity to help with homeschool, some dad’s may even have taken homeschooling head-on. Dad’s juggle many hats that I as a mom take for granted. I believe that fathers are one of the most important pillars in a child’s life.
Dads along with moms are some of the most overlooked roles in a child’s life. I know what being a single mom looks like and I know what being a fully supported mom feels like. I have a massive appreciation for all of the single moms out there who are trying to play both roles. It is nearly impossible. Father’s are meant to be in a child’s life, but I know there are many circumstances that prevent this from being the case, which is why Father’s day can be difficult for many Fathers and children.
I have found a lot of mixed emotions around Father’s Day. Father’s Day can be happy for some because they get to spend it with their children and family. On the other hand, it can be extremely hard for fathers who have lost a child or had a miscarriage. My heart also goes out to the dads who don’t get to be with their children — those with strained relationships with their father or father-in-law, with dads in prison, in the hospital, in the military, or who have passed on. Father’s Day may be a special day for me, but it is also an extremely difficult one for so many others. I am thinking about all the children whose Father is not in their life for whatever reason. This is especially close to home for me this year. I have nieces and a nephew who do not have their dad with them this year.
The meaning behind Father’s Day is so amazing, I think fathers should be celebrated more often than just once a year, they should be celebrated and appreciated daily. I believe that being a dad is one of the most under-appreciated roles. I am not a dad, but as I have been thinking about all the ways that I overlook my husband for his qualities, I thought it might be helpful if I give you an insight into my struggles of really appreciating him and acknowledging what he does as a dad.
I strongly dislike when wives or significant others complain about their husband or baby daddy. There are plenty of things to complain about I know; I have a husband who is not perfect. He forgets things, he says he will do something and he doesn’t follow through, and he gets angry. What I have learned in the past few months have been great for me. We moved from Minnesota to California this past year and my husband, Jacob, committed to homeschooling our children. We have 4 children (19, 14, 11, and 9).
My husband, Jacob, homeschooled our children from Oct.-March this past year. I am a recovering control freak. I have a tendency to want to take things over. I was used to doing things on my own, so heaven forbid he do anything correctly. The problem with this was that then he just stopped doing things. Not because he didn’t want to help me, but because I redid everything or complained about everything he did. This is something that I have been working on in the last few years. I am learning to appreciate and find the good in his ways.
I travel 6 days a month to work and he man’s the house. It drove me crazy to know that the kids would eat cereal for dinner, sometimes JUST popcorn. In my mind, I was so judgy towards my husband. He is fully capable of cooking and doing all the things, he just doesn’t enjoy it as I do, so he prefers the easier route sometimes. I have decided that as long as the kids are still alive, I will just let him be the dad he wants to be, well most of the time.
I tried to help with homeschool, but I found myself so stressed out because he didn’t do things the way that I did. He was a bit unorganized. What I realized in the past months of him homeschooling is that the kids listened to him better and that HIS patience has grown so much. He hated homeschooling, but he stepped up and did it because it made our family work.
There are fathers out there who hate their jobs. Yet they still decide to go to work each day and provide for the family. Each dad has a different yet unique quality about them. I was reminded of how annoying it was for me that my husband was the “fun” dad. There were times that my kids didn’t eat because they were too busy playing. What happens when a child doesn’t eat?— hangry little human. What I realized is that my kids love to play with dad and that is one of his many roles and that although it makes me crazy to have to deal with a hangry child, I look at the possible fact that the child was so happy to play with dad that they did not want to eat because it would take time away from their time with dad. Looking at it that way makes me less annoyed.
Jacob takes out the garbage daily and weekly. Who should be praised for taking out the garbage? (insert eye-roll). I take this for granted. He does this without being asked and I hate doing it. He is being a role model for the children that it is nice to do things without being asked. We all have different roles. Jacob is more of a manly man (yet soft type). He likes a clean car, so that entails washing my car. I on the other hand could care less. Kids are messy in the car, and they just mess it again. I’ll take it through the drive through car wash and be done. He likes to clean, wash, dry, and wax the car. I cannot tell you how many times I have been irritated with my husband for washing my car. I have learned that this is something he loves and it is a way for him to show up as a father.
Here is another example of my failures in action, Men like to be respected or feel respect. Something that I don’t really fully understand. One of the things early on in our marriage that I really realized was how I spoke to him in front of the children. My (our) oldest daughter was so sassy and she would be so disrespectful to him. One day it dawned on me that I was her example, I was showing her how to treat her dad. This is a big thing in our life because I realized that as a dad he wants the children to respect him, but children watch our every move and they do not do as I say, they do as I do.
Then there are the step-dads out there who deal with a lot of crap. I am sorry, I know they signed up for the role, but what dad knew what he was getting into? The truth is, that stepdads are more present than some biological dad’s, but the truth remains (at least for my children) that they still wanted their biological dad. Jacob could do everything right. He stayed up late with our daughter, he listened to her cry, he attended all school events, drop-offs, pickups, yet she longed for her bio dad. That is a hard thing to swallow when you are the stepdad and you do everything yet you do not get any gratitude from the child.
I believe Fathers teach their daughters how to be treated and I believe that Fathers teach their sons how to treat women. Our children watch our every move. I think men are meant to be leaders. One of the things that I really look up to my husband for as a father, is that he tucks the kids in every night. The kids love it and ask for it. We have mad arguments about it because sometimes he gets annoyed doing it, but the kids love that he tucks them in and I adore that he is teaching them to do this if they choose to have children of their own someday.
One of the greatest things I have seen my husband do as a dad that he rarely feels the credit for is taking on 2 children at the age of 19 that were not biologically his. He stepped in and stepped up in so many ways. A few years ago he was trying to figure out ways to connect with our daughter who was around 16 at the time. He asked her to do coffee dates with him on Thursday mornings, although she didn’t love getting up at 5:30 am, she cherished her time with him. I love that he did that.
Fathers are usually not seen as the ones who wear so many hats. I choose to believe differently. My husband fills so many different roles; he is the counselor to our daughter because I can’t handle the emotions sometimes, he is the referee, he is the adventurer, he is the leader, he is the example, he is the teacher of love, he is the teacher of what the children believe, he is a safe foundation, he cooks, he can do laundry (although he usually doesn’t). He has perfectly timed thoughts, especially since he has fewer words than I do. He has to hug when needed and be firm when needed. I feel that men have such a responsibility on their shoulders to be a good role model and be held accountable for their actions.
Growing up my dad worked a LOT. I rarely saw him. He would get up early in the morning and not get back home until later at night. My favorite childhood moments were early mornings, before the sun rose, I would sneak out of my room to snuggle next to my dad and listen to him for a few minutes, as he read the bible at the kitchen table before leaving for work. It was the only uninterrupted time that I got to spend with him.
As I reflect back at these moments and I remember how special this time was for me as a child. I felt safe and seen. I figured out at a young age that if I woke up early, sat with him, made his breakfast and lunch, he would be fully present with me. This seems so simple, yet it has been one of my favorite memories in my whole life.
Fathers are meant to be there for their children both emotionally and physically. Learning how to be present in this busy and chaotic world is difficult for me as a mother, I cannot imagine the weight on his shoulders as a father. This is one of the many reasons why I am thankful for those who are father figures. We appreciate them, love them, and celebrate them on fathers day and every day.
Ideas for fathers to be more present with your children:
- Love their mom well, regardless of your relationship— be a good example to your children about how to treat others, especially ones that they love.
- Plan a regular date morning or night with your children—one on one.
- Tuck them in at night and pray with them.
- Teach them what you believe and why you believe it. If you don’t teach your children what to believe someone else will.
- Fathers teach their kids how to have fun. I believe men are wild at heart and long to have that childlike play, show them how to bring that out even as an adult.
- Tell your wife, significant other, or ex how they can help you be a better father. I don’t want to make my husband ever feel like he can’t do something or if he isn’t doing it right, so the only way for me to know is for him to tell me.
- Know that you were chosen to be the father of your children. You may not do everything perfectly, but you are the perfect person for the job. Own it. Show up.
- Ask your children to tell you 3 things they love about you, use this as a guide to help love them better.