Tag Archive: parenthood


brad

I thank God for the example I received from my parents about what being a godly, loving parent and spouse looks like. By God’s grace whether we have had a shocking or terrific upbringing we still have the responsibility to choose how we parent. However, it is easier to aim at what we want to emulate, than to just know what you don’t want to replicate.

I thank God for the naivety and bliss with which my wife, Lydia, fell pregnant with Danielle, our first born, with the pregnancy itself, with the birth and raising her (she is now almost 2 years old). Because little did we know that our worlds would get rocked upside down in a matter of days after Dani’s first birthday…. Similar to Lydia’s pregnancy with Dani falling pregnant with Impi (just our in utro name), our second child, went according to plan, but suddenly at Dani’s first birthday party Lyd started having severe back pain. We went for a scan and all looked great (what a relief), but then a few days later Lydia miscarried at home (when Impi was 14 weeks). Simultaneously we found out that our daughter was being mistreated by her carer.

So has parenting been easy? No! I can honestly say life was easier without thinking of children, we were carefree, our schedule’s were our own. Would I change it? Not at all! I love watching a little life bloom. Being a teacher and wanting only the best for other people’s kids, it is a privilege to have our own children. Would I have stopped at one child, now knowing we were to lose our second child? Not a chance! Sure it was painful, there were tears, unanswered questions but we were brought into a deeper reality of God’s love, a closer connection with friends and family and in faith were, and still are, able to encourage other’s out there going through tough times. We have walked our journey open-heartedly and have been amazed how literally every 3rd couple has a story of losing a child, which has fuelled us even more to share our story. Praise God as I write my wife is 30 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child. God gives and takes away, but He is big and we can trust Him.

So what’s it like to be a dad? It is a great responsibility to lead your family, but at the same time there is so much fun to be had. Those who know me know that there is a boyishness in me that will be ever present until I am 105. I love how kids bring that out of you even more. If you put your being schedule aside kids help slow you down and live in the PRESENT like nothing else on earth. I know kids spell love T.I.M.E and that is what I aspire to provide my kids with.  But foremost I want them to see a dad that loves their mom to bits and lives out his faith blatantly before them, taking risks and owning up to my mistakes. BEING A DAD ROCKS!!!

[To read another ‘To Be A Dad’ story, this time by John ‘Zippy’ Benn, click here]

[For other encouraging stories from Parents who have Lost a Baby, click here]

Let me start with a bit of context: I’m not a dad, but I have a dad and I’m an uncle to four nieces, a nephew and a bunch of my friends kids. I’m also the godfather to three girls, two of which are my nieces.tim

I regularly have the privilege of getting to babysit (look after) my niblings (the collective term for nieces and nephews) and I know that that doesn’t make me a dad, but it does give me a taste of how amazing it must be to be a dad. I’m purposely using the term dad here in place of father (and not just because the title is “to be a dad”), because I think there is a major difference between being a father and being a dad.

The connotations of a father / child relationship is primarily biological to me, whereas for a dad / son or dad / daughter relationship is primarily an emotional bond. Only three of my five niblings are biological niblings, yet I feel that they all have equal nibling status to me.

Now to the being a dad bit and what that means to me… I feel it has a lot to do with being intentional, if I look back at my life, with reference to my dad , he made time for us (his three sons) throughout his life. (I’m blessed by the fact that he is still around.)

Some of the earliest memories I can recall, include working in the garden with him, working in the garage with him, working on the house with him, working on cars with him, working on boats with him… going fishing with him, going to fly kites we had built together, riding off road bikes with him, going camping with him… Did I always enjoy having to do all the “work” we did as kids? I honestly don’t remember it being “work”. Did I always enjoy having to do all the work we did as teenagers? No. Do I appreciate it now? Yes, because I got to spend time with my dad and learnt how to do things myself, how to work with my hands.

My dad has always been there for me, and still is. I feel that he made intentional choices to include us (my brothers and I) in what he did, he taught (guided) us to be the men we are today… He took time out of his schedule to watch us play rugby. He let jobs around the house take longer to do, because he taught us how to do them, instead of just doing them himself. As we got older he no longer needed to “supervise” us, so I think he may have had a long term scheme going so he didn’t need to do it all himself and could delegate.

Looking back at some of my earliest childhood memories, they are of spending time with my dad, most of them are of helping him with something or the other. Be it picking up stones on the lawn before he cut it, be it passing him tools as he worked on a car (when we were to young to do the actual work), be it waiting in the car on a Saturday morning for a spares place to open so that we could get the parts we needed to get going with fixing the well point pump… looking back it was work, but I didn’t mind, because I got to spend time with my dad.

He got the balance between work and spending time with his sons right most of the time. And as I look at spending time with my niblings, they don’t care that what they doing, what we adults see as work, they see as getting some attention (quality time) from an adult (their dad or in my case, their uncle). Think back to when you were younger and what it meant for an adult to include you in what the were doing, how it made you feel…

Yes, including kids in a job takes a lot longer (e.g. making them lunch, washing the car, pulling out weeds), but hopefully it is in those moments that we are building their memories of their childhood, in a way which lets them know they matter, just as my dad did for me.

Unfortunately so many children today are growing up with a distorted view of what a dad is, because of how men (dads) have been portrayed in the media over the last few decades. Spend a few moments and think of a current TV series where a father is portrayed as great dad? (I intentionally don’t have a TV for about six month now, so I don’t know if it has changed recently.) I can’t think of any, now think a TV series where a father is portrayed in a negative way? Much easier to think of…

I feel we all have a role to play in changing societies perception of what it means to be a dad. I’m asking myself the following question too, when last did you encourage / compliment / thank a father (yours or someone else’s) for being a great dad, for sacrificing something for their kid(s), for choosing to spend time with their kids in place of watching the rugby?

How different would the world be if we had a generation of fathers who were dads, that weren’t absent (at work 24/7); that made the spiritual / emotional well being of their children a priority, above excessive material possessions… that made time for there kids a priority over stuff for their kids… the most important things in life, aren’t things… Where kids see the dad as a provider, a place of safety, a place of being noticed, a place of acceptance, a place of being loved… a place of being taught and corrected… a place of stability… a pillar of strength… a source of wisdom… A world were fathers are revered and respected beyond the playground age of my daddy is bigger than your daddy and “it’s true because my daddy said so”…

To be a dad is a great privilege, but also a responsibility… fathers set the standard for their kids as to what it is means to be a man… both positively and negatively…

My dad isn’t perfect, but he is my dad and I feel he (along with my mom) did an amazing job of raising their three sons and I wouldn’t want any other dad. I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, being a father that is a dad, like my dad is, would be high up on the list. Thank you dad, for all you have taught me, done for me and mean to me, I know I don’t say it often enough.

[To read John “Zippy” Benn’s story of ‘To Be A Dad’, click here]

[For a whole series of ‘To Be A Mom’ posts, click here]

Lily

To be a mom used to be something I dreamed of. From the time I was in elementary school I told people that I planned to have six kids (mostly girls with one or two boys thrown in). I regularly made and updated lists of my favorite baby names.

I grew up in a home where motherhood was valued and praised and since I have two siblings who are significantly younger than me I started practicing my mothering skills at a young age.

To be clear, there was never any pressure or expectation placed on me by my family that my calling in life was to be a wife and mother. I simply had a natural bent towards domesticity and nurture. I like cooking and baking and I love small children. I think I “get” them better than I get adults. Maybe this is because there are parts of childhood I’ve never outgrown – for example, the urge to stomp my feet when I am frustrated or to sing tuneless songs narrating what I’m doing or to be scared of things like balloons that might pop at any moment – so I understand where they’re coming from a lot of the time.

I started babysitting when I was twelve didn’t stop until I was 25. I taught 4-year old Sunday school class at my church all through college and after college I transitioned into full-time nannying, which is the closest you can get to parenting without actually having your own kids. (Of course, this varies from situation to situation, but in some of my jobs I did the grocery shopping, prepared meals, did homework and school projects, washed clothes, bought clothes, arranged play dates, bought birthday presents for parties, and attended school functions so I honestly think it’s fair to say that this was part-time parenting).

I met my husband at 18 and was married at 22. Our plan was always to wait a few years before we started our family, but I still wanted a big brood of kids and felt pressure not to wait too long. As I was nearing 25 and nothing was happening for me career-wise I started to think, “Maybe we should start having kids.” I believed that having kids would be meaningful and frankly, I believed I’d be good at it. It was something I’d always wanted to do.

And then, about two years ago, something in me changed. I can’t explain exactly how or why, but I woke up one day and I no longer felt the desire to have children. People joke that nannying is its own form of birth control. I don’t think it was that nannying made me stop wanting kids. But I do think nannying made me want to be the right kind of parent.

To be a mom, to really be a good mom, you must be willing to die to yourself and to invest the best of you into your children. I have a mom like that, so I know what it looks like. I have worked with different kinds of families and there is a profound difference between the parents whose priority is their children and who are willing to sacrifice their comfort, their careers, and their dreams to invest in their kids and the parents whose priority is themselves or their careers or the image they want to project. I don’t doubt that these second kinds of parents love their children. But based on my experience with their children, I don’t think they are being the kind of parents their kids need them to be.

I started to wonder why I had wanted a family in the first place. Why do most people have children? I don’t mean that in a flippant or cynical way. It’s something I asked very seriously. One of my deeply held beliefs is that WHY we do things matters tremendously. So I started to ask. Do I want children because I’m hoping they will give me a sense of purpose? Because it’s the next thing to cross off the list? Because nothing else in life is working out and this feels like the next logical step? Because I’m afraid of missing out? Because I believe it will express a unique kind of love with my husband? Because I’m curious about what a mini-me-and-Jonathan would be like?

For many people, the desire to have kids is probably some combination of those things. And that’s not necessarily wrong. I’ve just come to believe that it’s not ENOUGH. For me, there has to be a deeper sense of calling and with that a commitment to sacrificing whatever is required to parent well.

Understanding what parenting really means and what it requires has convinced me that it isn’t something that should be undertaken lightly. I believe that God took the desire for children away from me for a season because it isn’t the right time. Not long after I’d had this total change of heart, the opportunity for my husband and I to move overseas came up. Our move abroad has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, and we wouldn’t have made it if we’d had a child or even been trying to have one.

I don’t know if this feeling will last forever or if God will bring back that desire again at the right time. I do believe that God is ultimately in control of my family and that whether or not we have children depends on him much more than on me. But as much as it depends on me, I want to make sure I pursue motherhood for the right reasons. And if I should get pregnant unintentionally, then I will embrace that as a clear sign of God’s timing and will trust that he will equip me for what he’s calling me to.

I used to long for motherhood, but now to be (or not to be) a mom is something I strive to hold with open hands. I want to keep it in proper perspective, neither looking at it as a means of personal fulfilment nor refusing it out of fear or selfishness. To be a mom is a high calling, but it isn’t everyone’s calling. I want to be sure I’m listening to mine.

Lily Dunn is an ice cream connoisseur, a Disney fanatic, and a fellow raiSIN hater trying to live an authentic, intentional life. She lives and teaches with her husband in Daegu, South Korea and blogs at lilyellyn.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @lilyellyn

[For a whole range of other stories arising from the phrase ‘To Be A Mom’, click here]

My Wife’s name is Vicky and My name is Bradley. We have been married for 6 years. The first couple of years of marriage were fairly easy. We got married and two weeks later had to relocate for work. So it was just us which in the beginning was good, after a few years we added kids and then really started to miss our family and the “extra hands” they would be able to supply.

Two challenges that I am continually faced with as a father and a husband:

The hardest thing to learn is how to love your wife for how she wants to be loved without the influence of other past relationships. I had a tendency not to do something that I had done for a past girlfriend based on the fact they didn’t like it or they liked it too much. So, flowers were out from the beginning. Not a good way to start a relationship. What follows from that is not to give up trying to love and romance the wife, simply because she is yours. Your call is to love her.

Second hardest thing is as a father, I am blessed to have an awesome stay at home mom. Which means she is on kid duty most of the time, it becomes very easy to become disconnected and not actually do anything you should be doing. Just leaving it to the wife. This can cause some extra stress and also a disconnect between dad and kids, I need to constantly remind myself, to help the wife out, and intentionally make time for my kids. Quality and quantity is important. Just spending quality time with your kids an hour a week is unfair to your kids and to your wife.

[For a Marriage Year 8 post with specific relevance to parents, read Steve and Kristin Heineman’s account over here]

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