It’s no secret that we spend time and energy on this blog catering to women. It’s a no-brainer really, since our target audience (and title) is Chattanooga Moms Blog. However, in the spirit of the upcoming Father’s Day holiday, I thought it would be nice to get into the mind of some local dads. I purposefully did not choose the men in my life for these questions, because I thought I would cry reading their answers, and although they are rock stars in my eyes, I thought it would be better to distance myself ever so slightly from the dads I’m interviewing.
These dads come in various stages of life, but they have a few things in common: they are thoughtful individuals and they were willing to let me ask them random questions about fatherhood.
So without further ado, here are tiny pieces of the interviews. Each man was asked the same series of questions, and I’ve chosen snippets of their responses to include for your reading pleasure. Trust me when I tell you that choosing what to include led to some undue stress. The interviews were phenomenal.
This is John. John is many things to many people, but he makes his living as a middle school teacher. He and his wife have two young adult children, ages 25 and 22, and both are college graduates. All 4 of them are involved in education as teachers in some form. John is creative and artistic, and he is willing to offer advice whenever it is requested, which is why he is the very first person I thought of for this post.
The two best pieces of advice I have for any dads: “This too shall pass” and “Parenting is a long series of letting go.” No matter what kind of crazy phase your children are in, eventually it will pass. Your task is to remain the constant presence during all the passing trends. And from the moment they are born, our children are gradually moving away from us. Our job is to let them go. Another good piece of advice that I got from a seminar or book or something is that our children will be adults a lot longer than they will be children. So teach your children to be the kind of adult that you want to be friends with. They will only be children for 18 years or so, but they can be your adult friend for many more years than that.”
“It’s different for each child. But it all comes down to words and time. My child should hear plenty of affirmation from me. My daughter should know she is beautiful and my son should know he is strong because I’ve believed in them and communicated that to them all their lives. And children spell love T-I-M-E. They want as much time as you can give them. And when they’ve sucked all your energy out, they still want more. I try to give my children those two gifts: words and time.”
This is Jim. Jim is a retired engineer. Jim and his wife have two grown children and five granddaughters. Jim is easily one of the most steady, reliable people I have ever met, and I am learning how important that trait is in my own life.
“Children should be exposed to as many learning experiences as is practical, while still allowing them time to do what they do best – be kids.”
“The media has for many years portrayed fathers as bumbling half-wits, with the children and teenagers having all the right answers. What this of course does is foster an image of normalcy to this false concept of a typical family. The media then contributes to the decline of the strong, healthy family where the father should take his place of responsibility along with the mother in imparting wisdom and maturity to the children.”
This is Michael. He is a minister to children and youth, and an unfortunate lover of Alabama football <shudder>. He and his wife have two children, ages 12 and 8. He is one of the goofiest people I know, and his child-like spirit is always up for a challenge. This makes for a fun friend and a great dad.
“I think I had a respectful fear of my parents but I knew they loved me and encouraged me. Boundaries were clear. They are the youngest of the silent generation that raised kids to be seen not heard. Tough love. I definitely am trying to raise my kids the same way. We need more of that this day in age.”
“Work is important but time with your family is more important. Make sure you make an effort to spend time with your kids, especially early. Establish the reality in their minds that dad wants to be with them.”
This is Dr. Stuart. He has a first name (Chris), but he was my college professor (who gave me a well-deserved B in American Literature), so I just can’t introduce him by that name. He is still a college professor, and he is married to one of our Chattanooga Mom contributors, Kimberly. He has two biological daughters (ages 19 and 13) and two stepdaughters (ages 8 and 6).
“When I was nervous about the birth of my first kid, I called my dad. He said, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll screw it up. Every parent does. There is no guide book. Do the best you can, and know there are some things you will mess up. We all scar our children, although we should try not to. Those scars are unfortunate, but they are like tree bark; they make us who we are.'”
“I tell my kids I love them all the time, but my parents never did and I never, ever felt unloved or uncared for. There are different ways of expressing that; my mom’s way was to take us seriously and be interested in what we had to say as we hung out in the kitchen and chatted when she was making dinner. Worked for me.”
Ladies, I was dead wrong. I cried when I read these responses even though not one answer came from my own flesh and blood. What I found was that these men and many of our men are doing parenthood right, and by that I mean, they are thinking, trying, and learning through parenting just like we are as moms. I asked them each a bunch of questions, but by far my favorite question was this one…
What would you like moms to know?
John: “United we stand, divided we fall. Please don’t make fun of me or disrespect my way of handling situations either in front of our children or in front of your friends. I will do things differently than you do, but your way is not the only way. Fortunately, my wife understands that.”
Jim: “Keep a sense of humor when raising your children. Broken toys, fevers, taking kids to ballgames, paying college tuition and leftover car parts in the basement are all the price for raising priceless children.”
Michael: “Let us help. You don’t have to do it all.”
Chris: “If your husband is not as fully involved in the parenting as you are … it’s just because he is lazy and enjoying the benefit of a culture that lets dad off the hook for all that stuff. As a guy who has sometimes been guilty of that kind of laziness, I’m here to tell you that’s what that is. It shouldn’t all be on you, or even more than half.