I became a Dad for the third time on Monday when our third daughter Layla was born. In the midst of a C-section, lots of attempts at feedings, changing diapers, and little sleep I’ve had some time to reflect on this little thing called fatherhood. Here’s what I’ve been thinking (no particular order):
- This is the last time I’ll experience the birth of a child that I helped create. Laura and I decided months ago that this would be the last child we would have. As the Bible puts it, our quiver is full. Even so, I was both overjoyed and saddened when Layla was pulled from Laura’s womb, because (barring a miracle) it was the last time I would see that happen.
- One of my children could end up saving my life. I had a kidney transplant eleven years ago. Today, that kidney is still going strong with no signs of stopping. It is, however, 59 years old. It could theoretically last several more decades. But the chances are pretty good that, down the road, I could need another transplant. Should my girls be of age, and only if they really desired to do so, it’s possible they could give me one of their kidneys. If they didn’t want to, I’d be fine with that. By the time I need one, science may be able to grow one for me from my own DNA (and not with embryonic stem cells).
- Fatherhood is a HUGE responsibility. Yeah, I have to provide for their physical needs. But the biggest responsibility is their spiritual development. As a Christian, my #1 duty as a father is to help my kids love Jesus. It must happen, not just when reading them Bible stories or praying with them (which I do), but in showing them how to live. Some of you reading this may disagree–that a parent’s job is to help their kids decide for themselves. Biblically speaking (and that’s the source for my worldview), however, my job is to point them to Jesus.
- My kids come third (behind Jesus and my wife). Some would say God takes first priority and the family as a whole takes second priority. But I firmly believe that within the family, my relationship with my spouse comes before my kids (some may say spouse and kids are on the same priority level, just with a different emphasis). I’ve seen too many cases where the kids are put before the marriage, and the marriage falls apart (Jon and Kate ring a bell?). The best thing for my girls is to see their parents love each other, to see me love and protect their mom, and to love and protect them. I need to do what I can to show my girls the kind of man they should look for in a future spouse. I’m not the greatest at it, but I’m working hard to do so. When kids come first, kids more often than not become selfish, spoiled brats with dysfunctional parents.
- The boys better watch out. My girls may hate me at times, but my job is to protect them. Any boys my girls date will have to go through me. Think Robert DeNiro in “Meet the Parents.”
- Fatherhood oozes grace. Like God’s grace to me through Jesus, I need to dish out grace to my girls. They will make mistakes. They will break my heart at times. They may, God forbid, make bad decisions that may affect them for years… or the rest of their life. There may be a time for tough love, but there will always be grace.