A father’s love is what made my boys in to the young men they are today.
This past Sunday was Father’s Day. We had nothing special planned, really. We ate a yummy breakfast and my husband spent the day doing what he likes to do; lounging around, hanging out with his boys, tinkering in the garage, and grilling.
I, on the other hand, had tons to do, because I had just returned from a four-day stay with my sister-in-law. So I sent my oldest out with the youngest two, to play. That way I could get the brunch dishes done with no one hanging on my legs. I had a mountain of laundry to do, as one might expect, in a house with eight people in it, and unpacking waiting for me yet as well.
While I’m washing the countless dishes, I glance out the window. My oldest is shirtless, in the sand box. Next to him is one of the twins, also shirtless.
They are sitting in the sand, driving Tonka trucks and pushing dirt. Together. They seem to be having some sort of important conversation, because my oldest looks over at his baby brother every now and then, talking. The almost two-year-old looks at him intently, taking in what he is being told, and then getting back to work in the sand. It is so darn cute.
And then it hits me. My boys are such good boys because of their father’s love.
I always used to think God gave me six beautiful boys because I could handle it; because I was a good mom. But the truth is, I don’t do anything different than any other mom. There is nothing special about me. I parent in the same way everyone else parents. Yet, my boys are indisputably unique boys.
They are good boys. They are at the top of their class. They excel in sports. They have a lot of friends. They are kind and good and respectful. They truly care about other people. They are everything that any mother would ever hope her boys would be. And I am so immensely proud of them. And so full of love for them. But I did not make them in to the fine young men that they are.
Their father did. With his love. And his guidance. And I realized this, as I sat there, watching my recent high school graduate play, fully present in the moment, with his little brother. How many 18-year-olds would truly utterly enjoy playing in a sandbox with their baby brother? Not many. Yet, my son did. It was evident in his smile, in the way he looked at his brother. It was unmistakable, in the way he threw everything he had in to that bulldozer pushing sand. I could see his mouth making motor sounds. I didn’t teach him that. His dad did.
A mom has her place in the world, and her place in raising her children. Absolutely positively no doubt about that. In fact, the caring of children still falls primarily on the mother’s shoulders. However, a dad’s guidance can make such an impact on a child. It is the dad who teaches his son how to become a man; it is a father who teaches his daughter how a man should treat a woman. Men are quiet teachers. Dad is teaching his children, every single day, whether he realizes it or not. His own behaviors and actions model his values, and unknowingly, he leaves an impact on his children. Where he leads, they will follow.
My children are such good boys – and I’m not bragging….I hear this all of the time – they are such good boys. But this is because their dad is such a good dad, such a good man, and such a good husband. How does he do it, you ask? What makes him so special? What does he do, that a lot of guys may be overlooking? He doesn’t rule with an iron fist. He isn’t the disciplinarian of the household. He isn’t keen on structure, or creativity, or planning, or education. He doesn’t care about parenting styles and what the books say he should do. He doesn’t even care what other people say he should do. What he does care about though, is his wife and children. He is fully present, every day, in every part of his boys’ lives.
And here is how he shows it:
- He works hard every day, at a blue-collar job, and then goes on to moonlight, into the late evenings, to make ends meet. By doing this, he teaches his boys the value of hard work and the responsibility of providing for your family.
- He works just as hard at home, maintaining the house, the yard, the vehicles and anything else that needs repairs. This teaches the boys to care for your belongings, to take pride in what you have, and to save money by fixing things yourself rather than taking it in to be repaired or simply replacing it.
- He helps with the household work; by cooking meals, doing dishes, washing clothes, scrubbing floors and cleaning bathrooms, and he expects his boys to do the same. This teaches his boys to care for their home and to pick up after themselves. It teaches his boys that it is not primarily the woman’s responsibility to care for the home and the family. He shows his boys that a man loves his wife so much that he is willing to work right alongside her. It teaches the boys to respect their mom and the work she does. And it teaches them how to care for themselves when they move out, because, let’s face it, they will have to do their own laundry and scrub their own toilet. Mom won’t always be there.
- He helps care for the children. He makes their plates at meal time. He gives them baths. He reads them stories and tucks them in to bed. He provides their care, right alongside mom. This teaches the boys that a dad raises his children. A dad is actively involved in his child’s life. It teaches them that a dad values and loves his children, and is willing to spend that time with them. It also teaches the boys that it is not primarily the mom’s responsibility to care for the children.
- He plays with the kids. Every day. Actively, down on his knees. At their level. And he visits with his older boys. Every day. Or hangs out in the garage with them. Doing what they like. He attends their academic, artistic or athletic events. This teaches the kids that he loves them. He enjoys spending time with them. They are important to him and to this family. It also teaches them that we spend time with those we love. We do things that they like to do. It teaches them that people are more important than things and people are more important than our to-do lists.
- He values his elders. He spent countless hours with his grandparents while they were alive. This taught the kids to love and respect their elders. It taught the boys that older people are fun, full of knowledge, good stories and fascinating experiences. It taught them to treasure the older generations, and to show them respect. Always.
- He has hobbies and interests, such as hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling. He shares these interests with the boys. This teaches the boys that it is important to enjoy life, to play a little. It also teaches them to respect machinery, guns, and wildlife.
- He is affectionate to his wife. He hugs and kisses her, and playfully picks on her, in front of his children. This teaches the boys that a man’s job is to love, respect and cherish his wife. It teaches the boys that it is okay for a man to show affection.
- He admits his mistakes, especially to his wife, even if it wasn’t really his mistake in the first place, and he does this in front of his children. This teaches his boys to admit when they are wrong, and that it is okay to make mistakes. It teaches them that it is not important to be right all of the time, that sometimes, the relationship is more important than who is right and who is wrong.
- He uses good manners, greets everyone with a smile, and makes small talk. He is actually quite a stickler on this one. He believes it is very important to be respectful and social towards other people. You look at people when they talk to you and you actively participate in the conversation. You use your manners, always, and say please and thank you. You show appreciation and gratitude. It was how he was brought up and it is how he is bringing up his boys. He models this one constantly, but he also will stop and correct his boys if they are not doing these things when out in public.
- He anticipates his wife’s needs and reads her moods. He is always quick to offer assistance, especially if she has a lot on her plate or appears stressed-out. He drops whatever he is doing to help, in any way that she needs help. This teaches his boys that a man’s wife is the most important part of his life. It also teaches the boys to be there for those you love, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
My husband has never actually “tried” to teach his boys anything (except good manners…that is so very important to him). He has never outlined rules, regulations, consequences, or expected behavior. He never verbally tells the boys what they should and should not do (unless it is to stop a fight or to pick up after themselves). He doesn’t use time-outs or groundings. He doesn’t really take things away. And he doesn’t spank, mostly because I don’t like spanking.
But he teaches, every day. He leads by example. It is a man’s way. And it is a father’s love.
Did I miss any good ones? What does your husband, brother, friend, or dad do to show his love? What unique way does he teach his children? Let us know! Leave a comment in the comment section.