On my last post, Princesses, Boy Bands and Butterflies, I wrote about my daughter and the importance for us dads with daughters to connect with them on the stuff they are drawn to.
Well I have a son as well… and it’s just as important to be an engaged dad for a boy as well as a girl. And they couldn’t be more different – not just my two – but all. So it’s important to “dad them” differently.
As I said in the post about my daughter, she got my wife’s external beauty but she got my personality. My son, may look more like me but he definitely got his mom’s sweet spirit and personality… mostly.
The thing that I have seen in my son that reminds me so much of myself is his competitive nature and unfortunate tendency to “not lose well.” Comptetive-ness in a boy is not a bad thing at all… I’m glad he likes to compete in sports and the karate classes that he loves so much… But I know from my own tendencies growing up that it’s the sore losing tendency that can lead to some hard lessons.
If you asked any of my aunts and uncles on the Rehmel side of the family, they would tell you that a competitive nature is a family trait. I’m not sure what our Rehmel family crest is – but in my mind I’ve drawn it as four dragons, sitting face to face at a euchre table, breathing fire on one another and clawing each other’s eyes out. Nobody plays euchre quite like a Rehmel… lovingly referred to as a blood sport at our family reunions.
I try to help my son deal with this family trait the best way I know how. But I often feel the twangs of self accusations of hypocrisy in the back of my mind every time I talk to him about it. Most recently as he beat me at a game of Mario Kart 7 and I had to go take a bathroom break to give myself a talking to in the bathroom mirror. Nothing like a grown man talking himself off a ledge over losing at a game of Mario Kart. Don’t judge me.
I love so much that God blessed us with both a daughter and a son. I love all of the stuff I talked about enjoying with my daughter – but there is definitely something amazing about a dad/son relationship. Losing my own dad at a young age influenced me in lots of ways – but cherishing my time with my son is certainly one of the strongest influences.
He is a boy through and through and his view of the world is something like this…
Football is for tackling – not for touch/flags.
Basketball is the greatest sport ever and the only 2 teams that matter – are the Indiana Hoosiers and any team that plays against the Kentucky Wildcats – in that order. (So that one is definitely heavily influenced by his old man. My apologies to all UK fans.)
Karate is for sparring – not for practicing in front of a mirror.
Dirt is for getting dirty – not for avoiding.
Farts are for sharing – not for holding in.
Bookshelves are really for trophies, medals and certificates – not books.
Pooping is a fact of life – but also the essential part of every joke worth telling.
The floor is for wrestling, legos, hot wheels and dirty clothes – not always in that order.
Snakes, lizards, frogs and bugs are for catching – not for fearing.
Rats are pets – not pests.
The outdoors is for camping, fishing, playing, and enjoying firsthand – not for observing through windows.
Sisters are sometimes annoying, sometimes irritating, sometimes funny and lovable – but always worth loving, caring for and protecting.
And what makes me more proud than anything about my son is that he loves. He loves God and he loves people. And I pray that that is always the path he chases. Regardless of anything else in the world – whether he’s a star athlete or grows up to be a rocket scientist – I pray that he always loves. I pray that his heart is never hardened or jaded by the darkness that exists in this world… I pray that he always seeks to protect those who cannot protect themselves. I pray that his heart breaks for those who are broken. I pray that he is always a friend to the friendless. I pray that he always prays.
I pray that I always remember that my son will be a reflection of me and that I live up to that responsibility. Jesus said in John 5:19, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” While He was talking about Himself and His Father… it is certainly an amazing truth for us as dads as well. Lead and raise them well dads. The future dads they will be depends on us.
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Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.