father silhouetteFathers.  Just that word conjures up a feeling or memory.  So much of a child’s life is influenced in the relationship between a father and child. How did it shape you? What would you say is important in this role?

I’ve been reminded, through observation,  what fathering at its finest looks like and what it doesn’t look like. There are whole books about “how a father should lead his family/children”, and what that means.  Unfortunately, many times this is portrayed as a dominating, non-negotiating, never-changing, sure-of-everything man. It’s portrayed as someone so “strong”, that no input is needed from others.  Settled.  Unmoving.

What if the opposite is true?What if,  when a man is approachable as a father, appreciates consortium, negotiates because he knows he doesn’t know it all, that is when he is leading. He is leading from a place of humility.  Children, at a very young age, understand “I’m sorry”. Parents make mistakes.  Fathers (and mothers) get it wrong sometimes.  The relationship doesn’t hang on perfection.  It hangs on honesty.

Fathers get the chance to “shoulder” the burden of the child’s emotional days.  They get to say “It’s going to be ok“.  They get to fix the broken bike, and make a child’s day a little easier.  They get to give advice and make a child feel important when friendships go awry.  The list goes on…of what a father gets to do/be.

Yesterday, I watched a young father wheel his son in the parking lot in a grocery buggy (cart). He zigged and zagged, making the child giggle and laugh.  The father initiated fun.  He initiated making a memory.  I love seeing David initiate conversation and connection with our children.  It takes intentionality.  It’s not easy, but isn’t this the “leading” that the books should talk about?  Not mandating by force, but leading by loving? Leading by taking the initiative. Leading by admitting freely the “I’m sorry” and “I don’t know” conversations. Am I saying a father would never be “sure”?  No. Not at all. But I am saying that at the end of it all, he won’t be remembered for his surety, but for his love and humility.