On Being a Successful Father

Right now I still don’t have a job.

Like many Americans I am unemployed. And a very bright side of being unemployed these past few months has been the significant amount of time I’ve gotten to spend with my boys.

My wife and I have, hands down, the best four boys on the planet (no offense to you, the reader, it’s just true). Ezekiel is 7, Taieze is 5, Jaemien is (terribly) 2, and Huck is 0 (well, 5 weeks to be exact). Zeke, Tai, Jae and Huck. They are incredible in every way.

(from left to right) Tai, Jae, Zeke, and Lil' Huck

Spending all day every day with them has provided me more space than usual to reflect on what it means to be a father. As I watch each of my kids grow, develop, mature and move from milestone to milestone, I find myself asking things like:

How will I determine if I’ve been a good dad?

What does it mean to be a good dad?

What do I hope for for my boys?

What’s most important to me about how I raise Zeke, Tai, Jae and Huck?

A number of different answers could (and probably should) be given to these questions, but one thing kept coming to me over and over again as I reflected on what I thought it would mean for me to, when all is said and done, “be a successful father.” And here is that thing: If I can add to the world four loving, caring and respectful husbands, who try their best to be loving, caring and respectful fathers, then I will have done my job and done it well.

(I’ll quickly amend that by saying that my boys don’t have to marry and/or have kids for the above sentiment to be true. Rather, if my boys grow up to be the “type of men” who, if married or had kids, would be loving, caring and respectful husbands/fathers, etc…)

You see, for me it is far more important that Zeke, Tai, Jae and Huck learn what it means to respect women than it is that they have a good education.

It is far more important to me that they learn the virtue of love as being greater than all others than it is that they have a successful career.

It is far more important to me that they identify with the oppressed and are full of caring and compassion (which starts at home) than it is that they make a difference in the world (ironic side note: IF they do THIS [identify with oppressed] then they’ll automatically do THAT [make a difference in the world]).

It is far more important to me that they lean in to the worlds of their children (if they have them) and be active and involved in loving and nurturing them than it is that they make money, or become famous, or develop influence.

It is far more important, even, that my boys become these types of men than it is that they become Christians. (ironic side note: IF they do THIS [become the above types of men] then they will automatically be men who live in the Way of Jesus]).

I realize I’m not breaking any ground here. (Well, perhaps on that last one. Some people would probably view “becoming a saved Christian” as more important than anything else).

I’m sure many fathers have had these same thoughts, or would easily agree with them. But for me, to reflect on these things, is significant. Because I think the world NEEDS men who respect women. I think the world NEEDS fathers who are involved in their kids’ lives. Because I think the world NEEDS men who love and adore their wives (or husbands) at the cost of all else.

If Zeke, Tai, Jae and Huck grow up to be these sorts of men, then I will have done my job as their father.

(p.s. All the “I” statements in this blog should also be read as “we,” for my amazing wife certainly feels a similar (if not the same) way.)

Now… what if we ever have a girl…!!?!