I’m not going to give parenting advice. I’m just here to encourage. I’ve barely even made it past the newborn stage with all of my limbs intact. However, I’m only 21. I hopped right out of the teenage stage and straight into motherhood. The memories of my feelings, emotions, and experiences are so fresh in my mind. Pair that with the insightfulness of being a blogging mother and I think that we can have an interesting conversation… or at least tell some good stories.
I love my dad. He is absolutely incredible. To me he’s a leader, a teacher, a provider, an adventure maker, and my rock. He’s a fantastic husband and son as well. My dad is pretty incredible in general. I mean, really, the list just goes on and on.
I’m terrified of the ocean. A vast expanse of unexplored territory and unknown creatures makes my skin crawl. Being in open water, not knowing what’s below me or what’s touching my toes fills my stomach with the heavy weight of anxiety. One of my clearest memories of my early childhood is swimming around the Great Barrier Reef with my dad when we lived in Australia. I was about 3 years old. Terrified of the vulnerability of the unknown, I clung tightly to my dad while he tread the open water. I sat there with him just watching his chest hair flow in the water, thinking that it looked like seaweed while being too afraid to look at the real seaweed beneath us. I have a feeling that that was one of my clearest memories because of the emotional and psychological impact that it had on me. He could have pushed me away from him, he could have told me that I was silly for being afraid, he could have let my mom deal with me instead, he could have left me behind on the boat. Instead, he held me. He made me feel safe and secure. He was my rock. I knew that I could trust him to always be there for me, to be a stable home base and rock for me while I navigated life, and he proved my assumption right every day after that as well.
Another memory that I have of him that I know shaped who I am as a person comes from our time spent together in Haiti. My dad is an amazing father figure to me and many others as well, including my husband. Because of this, he would often come on mission trips with our high school youth group. It was during our second trip to Haiti together where he taught me that emotions and vulnerability are okay.
I was having a terrible anxiety attack and none of the girls could calm me. They asked me if they could get my dad for me. I could have said no, I could have crawled into my teenage shell and rejected comfort from my dad, but I accepted because of the trust he had built with me in all of the little moments throughout my life. He came in and met me right where I was: on the floor with my head between my knees, hyperventilating. He didn’t tell me to suck it up. He didn’t tell me that I was too emotional or too sensitive. He shared his own experiences with anxiety. He showed me an emotionally vulnerable part of himself, making me feel comfortable enough to open up to him and accept his help, comfort, and life lessons. He taught me that it’s okay to break sometimes. He made me feel strong for doing so, never weak.
To me, fathers are more than just someone to teach you how to fish or how to ride your bike. Being there for those big milestone moments are certainly important, but being there everyday… being an example… that’s where babies are formed into functioning, thriving, adults.
Dads, you are so important. You are one of the biggest influences on your children. You are teaching your children lessons every single day whether it’s intentional or not. The way you act, the way you speak, and, most importantly, the way that you interact. It all shapes how your children view the world, how they should expect men to act, and how they should expect themselves to act. So keep on dadding! You’ve got this. Your job in forming these tiny people is just as important as their mom.