I have been reflecting for a number of years on what it means to be a dad. But to do this, I have had to work through the struggles I have faced in being a son.
It wasn’t that I didn’t get along with my dad. It was more that he didn’t really do ‘dad type’ things with me.
As I spend time with my joy-filled boy, I find myself lamenting on what I did not have for myself. Maybe its unhelpful, but I am trying to raise my son in a completely different way to the way I was raised.
I have found myself reflecting on how we are shaped as dads – as this shapes how we raise our sons. My dad grew up in the war and his dad was a very strict and ‘cold’ character, so that shaped part of who he was. He was shaped by his relationship with his father.
I can’t blame my dad as this was the environment he grew up in but I do want to raise my own son with less of the struggles that I experienced (and still do!)
I believe that dads today need to get together, to support each other and to consider what it means to be dads and to be raising sons.
I think together there are a few obvious things it would be helpful to work through as a group of dads and sons. Like:
- How do we express ourselves with real emotions that are not just anger?
- How do we listen more rather than automatically wanting to fix things?
- How do we help our sons to see girls as unique, precious and beautiful daughters of God, and then treat them accordingly?
- As dads, how do we work through, even during our 40’s, some of the things we still hold onto from the relationships with own dads?
So this is where I am at. I find myself inspired by my good friend Rachel Gardner who has invested a stunning amount of time and energy in helping girls to see themselves as fierce, gifted and truly and deeply beautiful
Starting a conversation
So today I am beginning this conversation and journey and I would really like some company. I have no doubt we will come across some difficult subjects and will need to be courageous and honest with one another. But surely that is itself a great thing to model to our sons; courage, honesty and accountability.
Later this year I will be getting some dads together and begin this journey properly. It’s important, vital, essential that we raise our sons to seek wholeness. If we show our own pursuit of wholeness then surely that will be a great starting point and example to them. Psalm 127 says:
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court” (v3-5)
I feel so utterly, utterly blessed to be a dad. As hard as some days are it brings me a huge amount of joy. I was at a point a few years back where I didn’t even think I’d get married, let alone be a dad. God has been so good – like the Psalmist says; my son is a gift, a gift from God himself. As with any precious gift it must be protected.
I love being a dad but I have found being a son really hard. For too long I have not taken time to work through this. But for my own son’s future and growth, I must.
Do you need to join me?
Michael Palin is Director of the the267project which supports and encourages Christian youth and children’s work. See here for contact details.
2 thoughts on “I love being a dad, its being a son that I’ve struggled with – by Michael Palin”
Yes!!!! I agree with everything you’ve said!!! You are blessed with such an amazing, important, privileged but fricking scary job! I feel both excited and scared at the prospect of raising a man in this world! So good to have time to reflect and share the joys and the challenges as it can feel like a road untrodden at times, which isn’t true!! x
Great article Mike, you’re boy is a blessed one to have a dad that thinks like this.