Friday, June 15, 2012

Fatherhood, part 1

Once upon a time, I left my kids with their dad. My husband.

I went to a women's retreat, and they went to a cabin in the mountains with my in-laws.

All weekend, I had a blissful, restful time. I don't ever consciously think this through, but when I leave my kids, I sort of assume they are being parented like I parent them. Like a mother parents.

So when I came home, all cheerful and relaxed, you can imagine my surprise when I saw the photos on the computer of what kind of weekend dad and the kids had.

First, I saw my son, who was not quite 3, standing alone on a dock. No railing. Surrounded by water on three sides. Um, where were the adults? Would you drop the camera quick enough to grab him if he plummeted in? Because I'm thinking he's going in! Deep son is right next to me, clearly alive and well.

Next, I saw my daughter who was just under 6 in an innertube on the water. An innertube with a rope on it that went off the photo. Like it was attached to a boat. Um, am I seeing that my Kindergartner was put in an innertube ALONE and pulled behind a motorboat on a giant lake? Yes, yes I was. She's never done that before and I wasn't there and I was a little shocked she survived without me. (I mean, it isn't logical. But that was how it felt.)

But the kicker, the photo I still get shivers from when I think about it, was where my son (the one who survived the dock) was also put in the tube. At that point, my brow was furrowed and my voice was full of that are-you-crazy-tone, "You put him in the innertube too??! And pulled him with the boat out on the lake??!"

(smiling) "Well, yeah! The boat went really slowly...and he had a life jacket on...and it was fiiiiine." His voice was full of that get-over-it-tone.

Oh my gosh. That was a moment in which I really struggled to accept something very important: Dads parent really differently.

In the book Captivating, one I think every woman should read, the author John Eldredge tells how God shows His glory through men and women in different ways. Through women, He tells us something about Himself in our beauty and our vulnerability (which is why a shut down, bitter woman is so tragic). But through men, God displays His character through their action and courage (which is why a passive, fearful man is so unattractive.)

Risk-taking and a love of adventure are rooted in the hearts of men because they are rooted in the character of God.

I can see that as glorious, or I can see it as threatening. I suppose the reason it feels threatening at times, for me, is that I can't relate. It is unfamiliar, that drive to seek out adventure and take risks. And put toddlers in innertubes.

But I don't need to "get" it to understand how much my children need to see the character of God in their dad. Oh, it chokes me up even to type the words. My daughter and my son BOTH need to learn that their heavenly Father is full of action and courage and encouragement and adventure, all under a banner of love and protection, all for their good. And they learn these things when they see these kinds of qualities in their dad.

When my husband is acting with passion, not lounging in passivity; when he is courageous, not fearful; when he says a sparkling "yes" to the kids because it means adventure and risk, when I may have said "no"; he is acting like his heavenly Father.

And his heavenly Father is a really good dad.

{in honor of Father's Day this month, I'll be spending some time in a series on Fatherhood.}



  1. I L*O*V*E this post! My husband is the same way. As much as it drives me nuts, it is also kind of fun to know they get to have that kind of adventure with him. I know his heart and I know that he would never purposely put our children in danger. It's just that our idea of "safe" is very VERY different!
    He also does things like bathe them together which ALWAYS results in water everywhere! But it also results in a ton of giggle and they love it.
    Kids need both sides and I am proud to be married to a man that I can trust to be adventurous with my kids. Even if it does make me cringe!

  2. We are the opposite- my husband is verrrrry cautious whereas I am much more carefree :)

  3. Loved made me laugh remembering one of the first times my oldest [now 23!] and my hubby were alone all day. They had Oreos and Kool-aid for dinner. LOL

  4. oh my goodness Leslie, this is amazing. AHmazing. My husband is out for a bike ride (adventure, right? :) ) right now, but when he gets back I am going to have him read this...he will love it. And it really helped me...and So God's words for me...we have been discussing the very thing of "adventure" with the Lord lately and what that looks like. And to remember that when Parker shows them his fearless, graceful adventurous spirit..he is showing them the character of God. wow, Leslie. this is like perspective-changing for me. I love you and your heart... AS ALWAYS. :)

  5. I love this. Thank you for taking the time to write about Fatherhood- its so important to understand God's heart as a Daddy. I have never thought about how a Dad taking risks with his children could help me to understand the risk-taking character of God. & I especially love that you pointed out that it is all done "under a banner of love". This one meant a lot to me. You are wonderful. God bless you guys!

  6. leslie, you and i, we're so much alike, hearing spirit lead us as mommy's and wives, and through grace so similarly. only my story involves my 7 yr old (my baby) on a 3rd story roof helping with christmas lights! and a quiet a few other "he/she was fiiiinnnee" stories. God teaching me not to immasculate my man, and god teaching him to cherish his wife. what a journey!

    great post.