A Word for Sorry Fathers

Am I doing this right?

I ask myself that question every day. When I leave at night to visit someone in the hospital I secretly wonder if I’m abandoning my family. When I turn down an engagement so that I can spend more time with my family, I wonder if I’m worshiping them.

I guess what I’m really asking myself is, am I a bad father?

If my mom and my grandmother were still alive, I’m sure that they would both say that I was doing a wonderful job. But that’s what moms and grandmothers always say. It’s their job.

I was raised by my mom. She and my dad divorced before I was five years old. I don’t know the whole story of everything that happened. I don’t care to. All I know is that I spent most of my childhood with my mother. She did an excellent job but there was one thing she couldn’t do. She couldn’t show me how to be a good dad. She could tell me, and she did, but she couldn’t show me.

And that had me scared to death when I became a father a few years back. Sometimes, it still scares me today.

Am I doing this right?

There’s no real guidebook for being a dad. The Bible tells me to raise my kids up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) and I pray every morning for God to help me in that task. But the Bible doesn’t go into specifics. How do I apply the discipline and instruction of the Lord to my kid’s soccer practice, their social skills and the best way to educate them?

I didn’t have much of a relationship with my father while I was growing up. My mom would make me give him a call and go see him from time to time but that was pretty much it. But when I became a young adult, I started to spend more time with him. A lot of our time was spent driving around the country roads that snake their way through the sandy middle Georgia terrain. He would tell me the history behind some of the old houses and how our ancestors played a part in that history. It was fascinating.

But one day he pulled over on the side of one of those roads. There wasn’t really a place to pull over but he did anyway. That’s what trucks are for. He stopped talking to me about family history and started talking about his own history.

“Son, I don’t know what all you know about me and your mom. But I want you to know that I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you.”

Whenever I look back on that day on the side of some beat up county road, I find the answer to my question.

Am I doing it right?

No.

No father does it right all the time.

But the good ones, the fathers that really care, are the ones that are man enough to pull over on the side of the road to say that they’re sorry.

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