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by Shawni

Out of all my growing-up pictures (from which there are not a lot to choose from in the first place), these are the only two I can find of me and my dad.

Just the two of us.

And I cherish them. (At the same time as I wonder what was up with my hair…ha!)

But even with so few pictures, the memories are deep.

He came up with funny and awesome ways to parent:

There were the nights when he would dress up as weird “characters” to tuck us in bed at night: “Monsterman” (who wore a paper bag on his head), “Horsey Lorsey,” “Green-Face-Green-Face-Make-A-Wish” (my personal favorite), Caxton, just to name a few (he’s always had the best imagination known to man).

There were the hot nights at Bear Lake when we would lay on our home-made fold-out-from-the-wall beds with the fan whirling to try to cool us down on hot nights and he would make up the most amazing tales of J.J. Talmadge (an imaginary kid with many of our names combined who would go on amazing adventures and learn awesome things). Oh, he also read us all the Chronicles of Narnia as we lay on those beds.

An epic self-made family point/money system.

(that is now a family classic).

Living in the wilderness and building a log cabin for a month.

(all in the name of learning to work hard)

Holding parent-interviews

(number 2 on those ideas)

There was an imaginary guy named George who lived near the cemetery and always gave out candy (somehow…not sure how that happened when he was invisible).

We would have “speeches” about random topics at dinner after we knelt on the hard ground at our chairs for family prayer.

There were the times when I would pull him aside to ask him all kinds of questions, deep worries, thoughts about creation, how the world worked. He always knew how to quell my fears. Even when he didn’t have all the answers.

I could trust him with anything.

He was safe.

And oh! how I adored him (still do).

There was this one memory I want to write about today. Not because it was a stand-out moment…it was just another day with my dad. But I want to remember, always, the little and big things about my dad.

We were on a road trip, for some reason it was just the two of us on a wide, open road, and we decided it was time to make up a family song. (Oh I’m sure that was his idea, not mine, but he had a way of getting me on board, hook, line and sinker.) The only “paper” we had to write on was a Wheat Thins box (weird the things you remember…maybe that’s why I still always buy Wheat Thins?), but the two of us got to work making up all new lyrics to an old British song we knew from when we lived there years before.

“We’ll always be a family, as long as trees have roots…
As long as Sayd has Sugarbag and Jonah has his boots…

(Sugarbag is my sisters stuffed bear that thank goodness she still has, and I’m sure Jonah still has a pair of boots around.)

Oh we came up with awesome lines like “dad and Josh throwing socks about the hall.”

And we were pretty proud of ourselves when we pulled into wherever we were going. We had become bona fide song-writers and that is a pretty exciting thing for a pre-teenager.

That little song we came up with on that Wheat Thins box in the car all those years ago is still one of our “family songs” to this day.

I still remember how it felt to have that undivided attention from my dad. Just me and him. (In a family with nine kids that’s a big deal.) I still remember feeling so much love. So much guidance. So unconditional.

Sure, these days we give my dad the business about his famous guilt-trips and we are all trying to branch out from his magnetism in our own ways, but as far as dads go, I know we all know we won the lottery.

There is nothing like a dedicated dad.

Which makes me thankful for HIS dad (who I wrote lots about back HERE along with the quote we have memorized from his letter to my fifteen -year-old dad shortly before he passed away).

Makes me think of Dave’s Dad, who raised him to be so filled-up with unconditional love.

And who still teaches him every single day.

And gosh, the thought of dads makes me think of the dad of my kids.

My partner through all the rollercoasters of parenting that come our way.

The one who makes these kids feel safe in all the storms that come their way.

Who is the best listener:

And always makes life fun:

I’m so grateful for how he dotes on his wife too…even when she’s huffy:)

Sometimes in this world of equal rights and girl power and all the heaving and pondering to figure out where women stand, I hope we never forget the power of a dad. (post edit note: see comments for a better explanation about that thought.) The influence he can have on his children.

The multiplicity of ripple effects of goodness one good dad can create.

So to all those dads out there, THANK YOU for what you do to father and love and lift and guide.

As we go into Father’s Day weekend, I hope this post can spur thoughts about the power of dads. I’d love to hear some dad memories…funny stories, serious ones, sentimental ones. Or just thoughts on the power of dads. The more we share the more memories that will come up and the more we can honor fatherhood.

I’d so love to hear your thoughts!

Happy {early} Father’s Day!

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12 comments

Jen June 18, 2021 - 10:45 am

Good Dads/men just don’t seem to get enough credit in our society today. Thank you for this beautiful tribute! It has sparked my mind to thinking and remembering my Dad and all our adventures. I am so grateful for my husband, who is a very good father… such a good teacher and example to our children.

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PS June 18, 2021 - 11:50 am

The struggle for equality doesn’t diminish fatherhood. In my opinion, good fathers encourage their daughters to shoot for the moon, and fight for their respectful treatment in all aspects of life. At least that’s what my dad did for me and continues to do for his grandchildren.

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Shawni June 20, 2021 - 9:00 am

I so agree. I’m sure how I said that equality thing came out wrong, and really it doesn’t have anything to do with equality. I just think that sometimes mothers get so much credit for the child-rearing (for good reasons), but we don’t talk about the power of fatherhood as often in my opinion. I think that’s just the nature of life, but oh! There is so much power in a good dad, just like you said, and I think it’s a beautiful thing.

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PS June 20, 2021 - 5:42 pm

Thanks for clarifying, Shawni. I see your point. As Kerstine noted below, the struggle for equality is the other side of the issue that you bring up: fathers aren’t celebrated/respected enough for parenting just as women aren’t respected enough in the workplace. Gender roles are too narrow in public media that men who are supportive and nurturing are considered “weak,” just as ambitious women are considered too aggressive and unladylike. It’s a sad state, and I’m glad your blog pushes us in a better direction.

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V June 18, 2021 - 8:08 pm

I agree completely, fathers have an extraordinary impact and power on their children. There is even a ton of research on that very topic! I’m not quite sure what on earth that has to do with the importance of girl power and the ongoing struggle for equal rights, though? Those two truths can each stand in their own power. It was honestly a little jarring to read your comment about that in the middle of such a thoughtful, meaningful, powerful post. Anyway, hope Dave and your dad have a wonderful day, it’s so clear they deserve it!!!

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Shawni June 20, 2021 - 9:14 am

I just don’t want the power of a good father to ever be overlooked…yes, so much research on that topic. This article explains what I was trying to say much better than I did! https://www.floridatoday.com/story/life/wellness/2019/06/04/power-fathers-influence-immeasurable/1298220001/
And this one too: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/10/dad
And this one addresses what I was trying to say right at the beginning (although I haven’t read the whole article): https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/06/the-distinct-positive-impact-of-a-good-dad/276874/

There are studies that show that children with good, involved fathers have higher IQs, are less stressed by the demands of life, have better emotional security, get in trouble less, have more problem-solving skills, etc.

I just think that is so beautiful and I am SO GRATEFUL for the positive roles of so many fathers in my life!
xoxo

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KerstinEK June 20, 2021 - 4:17 am

I feel nitpicky, but I agree with PS and V on your half sentence on equal rights. And I wouldn’t even say that “those two truths can stand each in their own power”, rather that they support each other. Equal rights aren’t just about mothers working outside the home. It’s about relinquishing the need of traditional gender roles (there is nothing wrong with traditional gender roles if a couple agrees on them!).

We have quite a good system of parental leave and parental money in Germany (probably with faults, but I think it’s good compared to other countries). Parents get up to 14 months of parental money (by the state), if both partners take parental leave and both take at least two months. The required two months is to encourage fathers to be more present in the first year of a baby (fathers definitely being important). Fighting for equal rights leads to fathers taking more than those two months, because it normalises the fact that men can look after their babies. Future memory on my husband as a father: We had a baby a year ago and my husband took/takes five months altogether, two months with me working again.

As for a (ongoing) memory of my father: My husband and I have two children. Before the second baby we both worked, which worked out perfectly fine with day care – in normal times. My father has retired already and he is the biggest support whenever our child is sick or there is a business trip by taking care of our child. However he only changes diapers when it really MUST be him, saying he had changed the diapers of his own children and that should be enough. 🙂

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Shawni June 20, 2021 - 9:19 am

So interesting how it works in Germany, and all over Europe. I love that my brother-in-law got so much paternity leave and that dads these days are taking such a more active role in child rearing. And I apologize that what I wrote obviously came out wrong! But I’m glad if it leads to further discussion of the beauty and power of a good dad.
Thank you for the good memory of yours…what a beautiful thing that he can take such an active role with your child. I love that!
Enjoy celebrating Father’s Day today!
xoxo

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KerstinEK June 20, 2021 - 12:33 pm

We celebrate father’s day on Ascension Day, back in May. So it was just an ordinary Sunday.

I am sorry that I misunderstood, but like you I am glad that it lead to another discussion!

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Jenny also June 22, 2021 - 7:52 am

“Sometimes in this world of equal rights and girl power and all the heaving and pondering to figure out where women stand, I hope we never forget the power of a dad”

What?!?! Feminism serves both men and women allowing all people to be fully actualized. In a feminist family young men who have a passion for teaching, for example, are celebrated and encouraged to pursue that instead of pressured into more lucrative careers to “better” support a hypothetical future family. In feminist community women’s with strong leadership skills can lead organizations and churches with all the smarts and skills. In feminist families mothers can bless their children with the same reverence and significance fathers do in patriarchal blessings.

And whatever did you mean by “heaving?” I though you were all about “we do hard things” when it’s important.

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KerstinEK June 23, 2021 - 7:38 am

I don’t think it’s necessarily unfeminist to encourage a son to have a more lucrative career. The same proposal could go to a daughter. And the solution would be to pay teachers better.

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Mom June 22, 2021 - 3:27 pm

Interesting stuff!

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