Dear Son or Daughter–

As I count down the days to Fatherhood, I’ve been reflecting on the kind of dad I’d like to be and what it means to be a father. I know that I’ll figure out the “dad thing” as it comes, but this is meant to be a summary of my fatherly aspirations before you are born.

There are many places to find examples of fatherhood. While your mom prefers to read books about parenting or just talk to our friends who have kids, I find myself quietly observing other parents. I’m like a psychologist in a human zoo. (Yes, like the monkeys at the zoo)

I like to watch other dads in how they handle different situations. What happens when the child throws a tantrum? How does the dad play with his kids? I’ve found this a good way to also see what not to do, particularly when I see a father who lacks interest or responsibility in public. I will take these to heart and do my best.

Beyond watching random dads, I think it makes sense to look at my experience…

My Dad (Your Grandfather)

A short story about my father… This year when my dad called to leave me a birthday voicemail, three things were noticeable:

#1 How happy he was for me that it was my birthday and how he was proud of me.

#2, He told me that my mom (your grandmother) wanted to buy me shoes for my birthday. (BTW, these are the blue shoes that I’m sure you’ll see in many photos later in life)

And #3, he liked the new greeting I had on my voicemail. Very typical of my dad–wearing his heart/thoughts on his sleeve (a quality I also happen to share).

My dad is a fantastic father. Growing up he would take me and my brothers on what he called a “special day”. This basically meant a day hanging with dad (and my dad also got to play hooky from work, except for the occasional phone call to check-in at the office). I think my dad looked at these days as a way of showing us something that we would not normally experience and giving one on one time that a son desperately wants from their dad. I always looked forward to those days and it was definitely a memorable part of my childhood.

See even though my dad may have had his own struggles growing up, he was very intentional about doing his best to raise us to be well rounded, appreciative and faith filled men… I hope to do the same.

So what will be the marks that you (my child) will remember me for?

I like the idea of a “special day”. Yep, I’ll probably steal that one (don’t worry dad, I’ll give you credit). I’m sure you will know me for my ability to make you and your siblings feel embarrassed by my goofiness (hopefully you find it endearing like your mom does… right babe?)

But, as I contemplate fatherhood I think I need to look at the perfect example of fatherhood–God the Father.

Through my prayer I ran across some notes from a men’s retreat on Fatherhood. I went to this retreat prior to being married, but it was relevant then and even more so now. At the retreat the priest said that “the Catholic faith is about changing diapers. Why? Because the Son of God came into the world and had his diapers changed.”

At the time I knew there was deep meaning in his statement, but I didn’t fully appreciate it until now (right before you are born).

If you think about it, this is a pretty bold statement. God is our Father and yet God became man, for us lowly souls. Pretty amazing if you ask me. Since my days without diapers are slowly dwindling, I want you to know that I have also looked to Our Father for  guidance.

The Mystery of Fatherhood

Some day you will ask, “Dad, why is God called ‘Father’?”

Well… He is the giver of life. He also sustains life and keeps us all safe. And, He has a relationship with the Son. The bond between the Son and the Father is an outpouring of love known as the Holy Spirit. All of this makes up the Trinity. Beyond that… ask your mother (I mean, she is the Theology major in the family).

For now though, I can draw from this too. If these are the qualities of our eternal Father, then these are also qualities I’d like to emulate in my relationship with you.

Create life.

Check that one off. (Definitely figured that one out. 😉 just read your mom’s prego posts)

Sustain life.
Okay, this one will need a bit of work. I’ve only changed about 10 diapers in my life and here’s a short list of things I just learned about babies:

  • They come out looking funny–big cone heads and kinda grey like aliens
  • We have to bring clothes to the hospital (yep, I definitely thought they would just come home in a stork blanket or something)
  • Newborns may look delicate, but when it comes to spit-up and poop, they can pack a serious punch
  • They don’t understand object permanence

Be in relationship with God.
Daily prayer and a focus on Christ is key, but I must also draw your mom, you and the family back to God The Father. (easier said than done, but I’ll try to lead by example)

These are my hopes for being a dad. I’ve got lots of good examples around me… my friends, my brothers, priests and my father. At the end of the day, I think I will be a good dad if I keep these two things in focus: sacrificial love and being a path back to God the Father.

My child, this is my prayer–
God our Father, sustainer of all things, help me to be a model of your eternal love for my family. Amen!

For now I’m taking a deep breath in anticipation.

Talk soon, Love,

— Love Dad

Have advice on being a dad? Share it below in the comments or tell me on twitter @ppadley.

[Photo credit: aarongilson]