My first born, Maddox, turns 4 today. Birthdays always cause me to reflect and become more sentimental than usual. I can’t believe he is already 4. I know it’s cliche, but it seems like yesterday he was born. In his few short years, he is wildly imaginative, energetic, and loving. He never forgets a name. He is extremely extroverted, oftentimes biking up and down our neighborhood simply looking for neighbors to talk to. He loves to “preach” and “lead worship” in creative, imaginative ways. He doesn’t stop talking, except when he’s asleep. Sometimes I look at him and can’t even comprehend how God has knit him together.
Since he is turning 4 today, I thought I would offer a few thoughts on being a dad.
Expectations are suffocating for everyone
Today, I wrote in my journal: It’s tough being a first born. I’ve placed so many of my expectations on him: How I expected to act as a dad, how I expected my wife to act as a mom, how I expected him to turn out, how I constantly expect him to act older than he really is.
Of course, we set rules, discipline when those rules are broken, and attempt to instill values. But there is a major difference between suffocating expectations (what you hope) and values/boundaries (what is responsible and right).
Responsibility to manage his feelings
Emily, my wife, brought this one up yesterday. At this age, we are responsible for managing his feelings. When he’s angry, we have to show him to be angry in a healthy way. When he’s sad, we have to show him how it’s okay to be sad. He is simply incapable of processing his feelings correctly at the age of 4. Therefore, we are responsible. It’s not easy to do, however. When he’s angry, it’s hard for us to not be angry as well. But being a dad is about rising above the feelings of your 4 year old and showing him how to deal with emotions correctly.
The most important role is Spiritual
When Maddox was born, we gave him a theme verse: Jesus, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.” John 6:35. Time and time again, we remind him of this verse and pray that he would realize this truth. My role is to pray for him, to pray against evil, to show him how to have a personal relationship with Christ, to not pressure him into faith, and to surround him with other Christ-centered people. There is no more important role in being a dad. To show him what it’s like to love and be loved by the true Father.
Being a dad is the greatest joy, challenge, responsibility, and gift I’ve ever been given. I pray that God will give me many more years to love my son with everything I possess. Happy birthday Maddox!