Dads, Be There
By Jennifer E. Jones
I don't have a lot of room to give men advice on being a good dad. However, as a self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl,” I've seen a great role model for fatherhood in action. I have an amazing dad. Really. He’s just the best. Trying to sum up what makes him so great isn’t easy. He’s funny and loves a good laugh. He’s full of advice, most of which is actually useful. And after 40+ years of marriage, he still opens doors and pumps gas for my mother. All of this is great, but when I think over my childhood, the one thing that sets my father apart from others was this…
He was there.
In this age of absentee fathers, deadbeat dads, and men who have emotionally checked out of parenthood, I can see that Dad’s greatest quality was simply his presence in our home.
My dad is a man of clockwork. Even to this day, you can always expect him to wake up at the same time, leave for work and arrive home at the exact same time every weekday. If the weather is nice, he takes the Harley out for a spin. If the grass is too tall, he puts on that same pair of 30-year-old overalls and cuts the lawn (even if it takes some prodding from my mother). I know it may sound boring, but the predictability was such a stabilizing force for me and my brothers. Without words, it told us, “You can count on me.”
When I was a kid and he came home from work, I would rush to the door to greet him. After he hugged me, he always made sure to give my mom the biggest kiss hello. She’d ask him about his day and let him know that dinner would be ready around 5:30. At the time, I had no idea that that daily scene was imprinting on me what a healthy marriage looked like.
My brothers and I love music, and we all have talent to various degrees. We owe that to Dad. Growing up, Mom preferred that we listen to only Gospel music on Sundays, but he’d always sneak in his '50s and '60s doo-wop or Motown. I can still remember how carefully he put records on the turntable and gently laid the needle down at the precise spot. It taught us to love and respect music.
Now of course, he has his quirks. It's difficult to get him to eat anything beyond meat and potatoes, and he can tune out of any conversation that isn’t about motorcycles, electronics or the Washington Redskins. He is always himself and never tried to be anyone else. And it makes us love him as a dad and respect him even more as a man.
Dad taught us how to ride our bikes and drive our cars. He lended a pat on the back and a “this too shall pass” whenever we went through hard times. He rejoiced with us as Father of the Groom and still remains committed to our mother. He was and is there, emotionally, physically and mentally, since day one.
So if I had any advice for expectant dads, new dads or just fathers looking for another chance, I think all the daddy’s girls of the world would agree. Be there. Showing up counts. And perhaps you’ll see that just being yourself is all your children really need.
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