On Fathers Day 2014 I gave each of the dads in my church a copy of David Drury’s book Being Dad. If you have not yet received you copy, please see me. I will not give this book to your wife or children to pass along to you, as this is a gift from me to you. Although I’ve read the book already, I’m reading it again, along with any of you that have begun reading (I saw one dad reading right after church). There will be no spoilers of the book here, but I will post my reflections on the three major sections of the book: The Early Years, The Growth Years, and The Peer Years, with the hope that these posts will further encourage you to not only read the book, but to also become the best dad you can be.
The final section of the book is on the transition of relationship from son and dad to peers. I know my dad enjoys his new grandfather (papa) status with my daughter, but we also enjoy our new relationship, which he initiated.
I found the first hints at our new relationship level by accident. All through middle and high school, I always had a curfew of 9 pm Sunday – Thursday nights and 11 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. After I started college I maintained that curfew, after all, I was still living at home, but one night I lost track of time. A friend of mine had recently moved into a new apartment, and we sat around one evening just talking. I looked at my watch and it was 2 am. I immediately went home. My dad was up watching t.v. when I arrived (which wasn’t unusual for him), but what was unusual was that he didn’t say a word when I came in and my mom was asleep. The next morning I apologized to my mom for being so late, and she just said, “We weren’t worried. We knew where you were and that you were safe.” That’s when I knew that the many years of being pretty responsible with keeping my curfew, and calling, even though I didn’t want to, when I might be a little late, had paid off. My dad now respected me as a responsible adult. I no longer had a curfew, but I now made even more of a point to call home, now out of courtesy, when I might be late.
The second act occurred several years later during a fishing trip. As my dad and I sat in his boat, seemingly out of nowhere he asked me, “What do you think about stem cell research?” My dad made it clear that he wanted my word as a pastor. We never had many political discussions in our home growing up, and when we did it was generally all about opinions and perceptions. Here, my dad asked me as an authority. I don’t recall giving a definitive answer, as I had not studied the issue carefully at that point, but I began to verbally consider the angles with my dad. I never felt while growing up that my dad didn’t respect my opinions, but now I felt like he thought I had some wisdom.
I’ve got a long way to go before I hit this transition in my life, but my dad has in some way prepared me for it. Perhaps you dads out there who are closer to or in this stage might want to comment.