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What Men Want You to Know About Fatherhood

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This Father’s Day, we’ve asked men to do a little soul-searching and help women understand the joys and challenges of fatherhood. 

The men we’ve quoted below have very different families. Their children are biological, adopted and inherited through marriage. But their words carry common threads of wisdom. Here are the top six things men want you to know about fatherhood.

It calls for vision and responsibility.
“Fathers are called to be ‘pro-visionaries’ for their families, much like the scouts of the western wagon trains. Dads are to be looking ahead to see the dangers and needs for their children and families (financial, relational, physical, spiritual and emotional) and planning ahead for each child to reach their greatest potential,” says Todd Keyes, father of three sons and one daughter. 

It stirs up many feelings.
“Fatherhood has tested my patience at times that have made me immediately recognize the times I tested my own father,and has given me a joy and pride I knew not possible. One of the more overt feelings that have come from being a father is an extreme biological instinct to protect them at all costs,” says Dave Cornell, father of two sons and one daughter. 

“Being a father covers a wide range of human experiences and emotions for me. I have felt wonder when holding a newborn, pleasure when receiving an unsolicited hug, laughter when playing on the carpet, anger at unkindness, disappointment at immaturity, pride toward the strength of my sons, awe at seeing the beauty of my daughters, humility when experiencing my own brokenness. Sometimes I feel like the proud captain of a first-rate crew. Sometimes I feel drowned by uncertainty. Or crushed by the weight of hard decisions. A lot of the time I feel tired and spent. In all of this, I am realizing it is a journey for me to mature in my own character, and learn what it means to love and serve,” says Michael Eriksen, father of six.

Sometimes it raises feelings of inadequacy.
“I’ve tried to lead, teach and love my kids, simultaneously feeling proud of them and humbled in my own inadequacies,” says Kent Schellhause, father of three and grandfather of many.

“When my daughter was born, Dad came out to visit with us. He perfectly described being a parent: ‘You will get contradictory advice from everyone. Everyone will be mad at you for not listening to everything they say. You will do the best you can and you will always know you are a failure.’ That about sums it up,” says an anonymous father of two. 

“My dad probably didn’t think he was a very good father either. I remember him making disparaging remarks about himself. But when I think about him, I feel he was a much better father than I am. That sounds kind of weird since he was a binge alcoholic most of my childhood, but in spite of that he made me feel like I was very smart and capable. I was sure he believed in me. This is probably the thing that I really do believe about fatherhood: a father is someone who believes in you,” says an anonymous father of two.  

It is a priceless experience.
“The number one thing I’ve learned from being a father is a bit of what God is like, and it has even allowed me to experience some of what God has experienced. Namely the joy and sorrow of loving so deeply. I want the very best for my children. And that does not mean things or experiences as measured by the world. It is more character, values and love that I want for them. I want them to know, trust and love Jesus. The self-sacrifice it takes when motivated by love is a heart-altering experience. I feel fatherhood has allowed me to experience God’s heart for His children in a small tangible way,” says Kent Schellhause.

It makes them appreciate their wives’ partnership.
“My wife has been a great help. Couldn’t do it without her,” says Mark D. Lawry, father of two. 

“In all of this, I would not function in this role without my equal partner, my wife, whose strength, discipline, and wisdom carry us day after day,” says Michael Eriksen. 

It is deeply rewarding.
“Through it all, along with the marriage to my wife and relationship with my own family, it is one of the single most rewarding experiences of my life,” says Dave Cornell. 

“I’m reminded of an old U.S. Army recruitment slogan, ‘it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love,’” says Kent Schellhause. 

To fathers: your authenticity is beautiful. You have shaped lives by being who you are, even as you are being shaped by fatherhood by your own experiences of fatherhood. We are grateful to you. Happy Father’s Day!