Fatherhood is Not for the Faint of Heart

Fatherhood is Not for the Faint of Heart

FatherhoodFather’s day is approaching and I am happy to have Rob Teigen as a guest blogger today. You can find him at Stronger Dads.
I love Father’s Day! I don’t care if it’s just another greeting-card induced holiday. I always like an excuse to fire up the grill and enjoy a day with my family. My wife Joanna and our kids always spoil me with creative gifts and key lime pie. This year holds an extra-special Father’s Day for us because our foster son is just weeks away from becoming “our boy” through adoption. One son in pull-ups and the other in college—got to love this crazy life!

Between our two boys we have three beautiful daughters.
Our oldest girl, Emma, is working hard to prepare for her driver’s test later this summer. In honor of Father’s Day (and the fact that we’re both still alive to tell about it), I’d like to share some parenting lessons I’ve learned through teaching Emma to drive.

Rob T daughterIt’s Scary
Just like getting in the car with an inexperienced teenager behind the wheel, fatherhood is not for the faint of heart. Unlike driving, however, we’re not handed an instruction manual with all of the rules of the road. There’s no “father’s ed” to give us some practice before sending us out on our own. The road of fatherhood gets bumpy sometimes. The GPS stops working and we feel lost in how to lead our families. Thankfully we have a perfect Father in heaven that stays by our side every moment. When we’re lost, he promises to show us which way to go. When we’re exhausted and broken down, too tired to travel one more mile, he gives us strength to keep on going. When we break the rules or fail and face painful consequences, he gives grace and forgiveness every time. When we feel like life is moving too fast and we’re out of control, he is our peace.


It’s exciting
My daughter is eager for the excitement and independence that a driver’s license will bring. It will be a new chapter in life with my daughter—allowing her new freedom and responsibility. It’s already a thrill to see her confidence growing as she masters lane changes on the freeway and parking neatly in the center of a parking spot. Fatherhood is exciting too. We get to witness so many “firsts”—their first word, first steps, first job, first dance—and their wonder at falling in love, finding their gifts and talents, and beginning families of their own. Even with all the stressful, sleepless nights that parenting brings, children are a blessing from the Lord. Nothing will stretch our faith or bring us to our knees like fatherhood. It’s a wild and exciting ride.


Be a coach, not a critic
Every time my daughter and I buckle up to practice her driving, I have to decide if I’m there to coach or criticize. Do I resolve to stay calm and express confidence in her? Will I become angry and overreact when she makes mistakes or backs into the trash cans? I can choose to gently correct and guide her through her weaknesses, or tear her down through worrying and complaining that she’s never going to get it right. In fathering it’s the same—it’s easy for me to become anxious and criticize my kids’ every move. However, I want to strive to be for them what God is for me. He’s slow to anger, abounding in love, full of patience, and forever encouraging us no matter how many times we fail.


Be consistent
One of the lessons I’ve been teaching my daughter is to be as consistent as possible in her driving. She should wear her seat belt every time. Her phone should never leave her purse when she’s on the road. She should check her mirrors and look over her shoulder every time she changes lanes. She should always check that the wipers and lights are shut off before she take the keys out of the ignition. Consistent habits will help her to know the road and the car so well that she can get to her destination safely. Parenting requires consistency too. Our kids need to know that our love, our values, and our commitment to them will never change. When we keep our promises and follow through with discipline, it gives our children security and the assurance that we’re here for them no matter what. It’s a way to demonstrate the faithfulness of God himself—he says that even when we fail him, he will never leave or forsake us. He never changes and he never turns away when we reach out for him.


Let them go
This is the hardest one of all in both teaching kids to drive and parenting. It’s hard to feel out of control, and it’s brutal to give it up to a child with so much less experience and wisdom than her dad. To hand over the car keys to my girl and say, “Here. I trust you with our safety and one of the most expensive items I own” is not easy. My son remembers driver’s training and still teases me about the invisible brake I was always stomping on the passenger side. Pushing that imaginary brake pedal was a foolish attempt to feel like I had some effect on how fast we were going. Over time I learned to relax and trust that he could handle things just fine. The greatest way to free ourselves from fear and worry as parents is to release our kids to God. The vehicle (no pun intended) by which we hand our kids over to him is prayer. Placing our children fully in the loving hands of God will free us from worry and frustration. It allows us to trust God’s perfect plans for our kids’ lives, even when “they don’t go according to plan” as Kathi would say. Our goal is not to raise perfect children, but to allow God to bring them to a point where they place their trust in him. God can use every situation for their good and we can trust them to his control.


Enjoy the ride
It can be difficult to not take driving and life with our kids too seriously. When I think she didn’t just turn in front of that 18-wheeler, did she?! Or, she didn’t just talk back to me like that, did she! fatherhood just seems stressful and hard. But when I look over at my lovely daughter in that driver’s seat and see what a fantastic young lady she’s becoming I just think about how we got here. How just yesterday I was teaching her to ride a bike in the church parking lot. How she used to hold my hand in the grocery store and now she’s driving me there. How she needed me to tuck her in and now she stays out long after I’m asleep. Our days with our children go by so fast, and we can spend way too much time stressing over the small stuff. We miss out on breathing in the beauty of the special moments each day. Enjoy the ride—celebrate your family and your kids’ dad this Father’s Day. Let him know what a great job he’s doing this week. I have a hunch he’d love to hear that from you.


Rob is giving away FIVE bundles of two of his books 88 Daddy Daughter Dates & A Dad’s Prayer for His Daughter AND 88 Great Conversation Starters for Dads & Daughters card set. To enter for a chance to win a bundle tell me in the comments below what is the best way the fathers in your life live to be celebrated. You have until June 9, 2014 to enter.

Dad Daughter Conversation CardsIf you want to get the books today you can do so over at Amazon. A Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter. 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates

Rob is the author of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids, Laugh-Out-Loud Animal Jokes for Kids, and Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids (under the pseudonym Rob Elliott).
He’s has been a publishing professional for more than Twenty years. Rob lives in West Michigan, where in his spare time he enjoys laughing out loud with his wife and five children. You can find out more at www.strongerdads.com


Rob T

Rob is the author of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids, Laugh-Out-Loud Animal Jokes for Kids, and Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids (under the pseudonym Rob Elliott). 

He’s has been a publishing professional for more than Twenty years. Rob lives in West Michigan, where in his spare time he enjoys laughing out loud with his wife and five children.  You can find out more at www.strongerdads.com