4 Perspectives from 4 Dads
Every child is different, and so is every parent. Check out these four unique takes on fatherhood.
It’s no secret that kids are different at different ages. You have the basically comatose return from the hospital that first night, the Terrible Two’s, and before you know it, you’re dealing with a teenager. But some people forget that the parents change, too. Unfortunately, we couldn’t ask the same parent the same questions every fifteen years for sixty years, so instead, we asked four different dads the same questions.
First off, we have Chris, who has a child that is only six months old. Then, we have Bob. Bob has four kids, a sixteen-year-old, a fourteen-year-old, a twelve-year-old, and a six-year-old. Bob is followed by Ted. Ted has two kids, both in their twenties. And finally, we have Eugene, the great-granddaddy. Eugene has three kids, twelve grandkids, and a handful of great-grandkids.
Chris: I only have a six-month-old, so so far, seeing the growth of this little baby, intellectually, emotionally, you see this little personality start sprouting out of them. It feels like a really magical process and it’s really cool to participate in that. You help them learn, whether through learning, or playing, or comforting the baby. You get to have a really cool experience participating in this growth process. I think when parents talk about what makes kids worth it, this is it.
Bob: Wow, it’s hard to pick out one thing. There are lots of things that run through my head, but most is probably watching them succeed and grow. Achieving their goals. As far as their success. Passing a test. Scoring in a game. Seeing them when they’re happy. Seeing them grow.
Ted: My favorite thing about being a dad is the love that comes back from my children. When I see my kids, no matter what state we’re in, even if there are things we’ve argued about, I feel love from my two kids.
Eugene: I love when my kids buy me stuff. I raised them and I deserve a trip to Disneyland. Outside of that, there’s a handful of things that come to mind. I’m a very lucky father and am proud to claim that I raised the three best children in the world. Seeing my kids be parents, and do a good job of it, is probably my favorite thing to see. They are all doing such a good job with my grandkids, I like to think I taught them something.
Chris: Wow, um, a lot of things. As a parent, you worry a lot in general. A lot of your time is spent figuring out those risks, safety, eating, bad people, and then reducing those worries. Yeah, there are always issues in the world and you worry about how that affects your kid. And you think, “how can I help grow and parent this kid so they’re equipped?” I just want to equip my kid with the right tools and knowledge. As I see this little baby grow, I know they grow from what they see. So it’s a huge responsibility for me to be a good example so they are prepared for the rest of their life.
Bob: There are a lot of things that I am afraid of, but the thing that worries me the most is that they won’t end up with good friends. I am 100% convinced that the influences of their friends determine how they’re going to be as an adult. I crave that they find good friends and if they don’t, that scares me. You know, I’ve seen it, where one summer one of our kids was hanging out with friends who were bad news. Thankfully, they didn’t stick with them for too long. But bad friends is a dangerous road that can lead to a lot of the bad things talked about in the Raise program. Good friends are great.
Ted: I’m afraid of a handful of things: I’m afraid they’ll be physically injured and I’m afraid that they’ll forget the lessons we taught them growing up. I hope that they remember the standards and values they were taught, like honesty, kindness, forgiveness, and respect. I also worry about their relationships. Both my kids got married last year and I really hope that their marriages are successful. And finance. I was never too great with money in my life, didn’t quite figure it out until my 30s, and I hope that they’re able to work and pay for their lives.
Eugene: I’m no spring chicken, and neither are my kids. I’ve known some of my friends whose kids had died before they did, and that’s what I’m afraid of most. Sometimes people get sick, and that’s not something I can protect them from. My brother died before my parents did, and even though he was a little [jerk], it was a hard time. I also am afraid that they’ll do something stupid, which is likely for fifty-year-olds.
Chris: That’s a funny question because I’m looking for advice. I guess that it gets easier. They’re very dependent at the start, but they do, even at six months, become a bit more independent. They start playing and giving them attention, and it’s not so much taking care of this kind of unresponsive sack. I remember it being challenging when we first brought them home, like I thought that there would be more interaction, I felt like I was taking care of a vegetable. But more recently, you see that personality come out and it’s way more fun. So I guess that’s my advice. They change dramatically.
Bob: I’m not a perfect parent, I’m not an expert by any means, but I think for me is to make sure you manage your expectations. They’re still kids. They’re not going to be perfect. They’re going to make mistakes. Hopefully, they can make mistakes and you can help build them up and learn from the mistakes together. But if mistakes are too scary to make, they are never going to grow, they are never going to learn. And, of course, just be there for them.
Ted: Getting to this phase in parenting is difficult. I would tell parents it’s hard. I think my biggest advice to all parents is to have a sense of trust, at any phase, and that needs to increase as they get older. Because if your kids don’t think you trust them, they won’t come to you when bad stuff happens. Whereas if you trust them, when these things come, they come to you and think, “my parents trusted me, I can trust them.” And then at this phase, you have to do the same thing, you say “they’re big kids, they’re all grown up, they can make their own decisions.” And you just hope you raised them right.
Eugene: Buckle up. It’s not just for eighteen years. Love your kids. As long as your kids know you love them, parenting is easy.
Parenting is a tough thing to do and sometimes it may feel as if you are facing things that are totally unique and unseen by parents, but that’s not true. You’re not alone. Billions of parents have gone through the same or similar things and still resulted in great children.
As you parent, and your kids age, you are to grow, constantly becoming better at being a mom or a dad. After hearing from these four dads, the throughline is clear: the most important thing is to love your kids and let them know that you love them. If you want to learn more about fostering this parent-child connection, check out this journey.