Dads are invaluable. They're counselors, playmates, teachers, leaders, caregivers and providers. In honor of fathers everywhere, we asked three dads to share what fatherhood means to them.
The New Dad
Sure, parenting is exhausting, admits new dad Tony Brown of Streator, Ill. “[It's] more tiring than I expected,” he confesses. For about a year, he's been foster parent to an infant boy, but the good times make all the minutes of exhaustion worth it.
“The best part of fatherhood for me has been seeing my boy overcome things that I thought would take a lot longer, like learning to walk,” he shares. In fact, watching his child's pride in this new skill makes him smile every time he sees it happen. He says, “It's just absolute joy on his face when he can go wherever he wants to.”
Because of the fostering arrangement, the future of Brown's relationship with his son is uncertain, but no matter the outcome, he wouldn't trade the year he's spent with this child. “Even if I don't get to keep him the rest of my life, I know the time spent here was well worth it for me and for him. It doesn't matter how it turns out; this has been one of the best times of my life.”
The Seasoned Dad
David Medina of Danville, Ky. has close to a decade of parenting under his belt. His oldest, Caleb, is nine, followed by Luci, age 7, and Silas, age 5. However, reflecting on the years that have passed, he comments, “I don't think fatherhood has changed that much. The words may be different, as well as the kids' understanding, but the message is still love.”
Having multiple children has taught him an important lesson. “Each child needs to be taught differently, disciplined differently, loved differently.” Having three kids has also taught him that he's “a jungle gym, a monster chaser and a couch. I kid you not: all three will find a way to sit on me if we're watching a movie.”
Despite each of Medina's children's differences, they do have some common traits that make their dad smile. “I'm proud that all of my kids love to read and are imaginative and make up games with each other.” The other day, his youngest son tried shouting Harry Potter's “Accio car!” to reclaim a toy vehicle from his brother. It was a proud moment for this Potter-fan father.
“I really feel like being a grandfather is your reward for making it through fatherhood,” says father and grandfather John Warnke of Phoenix, Ariz. His three grown children have given him six grandchildren, ages 12 and under.
There are plenty of moments Warnke treasures with his grandkids. He takes delight in their hugs and in seeing them try their best in sports. He also loves when people say that his infant grandson “looks just like Papa.” Warnke adds, “I get to serve in the role of teaching the kids what is truly important in life: love of God and love of country.” He also likes to show the children how to have low-tech fun. “There is a wonderful world to have fun in out there, without electronics,” he says.
Warnke clearly remembers the busy years of trying raise kids and earn a living, but advises young dads to make the most of their children's young years. He confides, “As a chaplain, I have never met a man that was dying that wished he had spent more time at the office,” and adds, “[Our children] look to us for wise choices and direction for their lives.”
Dads, for all you do and for all the time you invest in your children, we thank you. Happy Father's Day.
Meghan Ross is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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