What does being a father mean to you?
As the Winter Olympics begin, I want to highlight some committed dads who will be competing there in Sochi, and some comments they made about their role as fathers.
Billy Demong (Nordic Combined Skiing) said, “Fatherhood has made me much better with time management. It’s about striking a balance and prioritizing and focusing on what’s important.”
And Heath Calhoun (Alpine Skiing – Paralympian) commented, “In my spare time, I like to spend every minute possible just being ‘dad’ to my three kids!”
Todd Lodwick (Nordic Combined), who is the first six-time Olympian, said this about his role: “I grew up [spending] all of my free time outside. I’m now sharing that tradition every chance I get with my kids, hiking, camping & fishing.”
And I want to tell you more about David Wise (pictured at right), a competitor in Freeskiing – Halfpipe. David is 23 years old, married, with a 2-year-old daughter. A recent New York Times article dubbed him the “undude” because he stands out as very different from many others in the skiing and snowboarding culture. As the Times reporter said it, David is “surprisingly grounded for someone who makes a living flying through the air.”
Fatherhood is a big part of that. He says, “Being a dad is an amazing experience. It is an equal share of intimidating responsibility and overwhelming reward.”
He thinks it may also be an unfair advantage over his rivals. Being a family man has given him a different perspective on his life and his competitions, so he’s more relaxed and able to push himself when he’s skiing. And failing or losing wouldn’t be the crushing blow that it might otherwise be since he has other, higher priorities in his family.
Here’s another quote from David in the Times article: “People look at me and say: ‘Man, you’re married and have a kid? Your life is over.’ And I think, My life is just beginning.”
Now, let me ask again: What does fatherhood mean to you? How are you different or better because you’re a dad?
Maybe you’ve gradually become comfortable with the idea that making sacrifices is part of fatherhood; you’re giving up some things you enjoy because duty calls. You’re reigning in some career ambitions, hobbies or other pursuits because you’re a dad. Only you’re finding that these really aren’t sacrifices, but simply ways you’re living out your priorities.
For some, a life-threatening situation wakes you up to what’s most important in life, or what you’ve been taking for granted.
Or maybe you’ve been doing some reflecting about the good things you learned from your dad—or even the things you learned because of your dad’s influence. Now you want to figure out ways to pass those values and lessons on to your children.
A few years back, a study concluded that fathers are significantly more likely to be outward-focused and service-oriented compared to men who are not fathers. Fatherhood changes us; it helps to make us more selfless and empathetic, and more responsive to the needs of others in our neighborhoods and communities. (This is particularly true for highly involved fathers.)
Those are a few factors that might help some dads answer the question, but I’m also interested in how you would respond—what being a dad means to you. I hope you’ll leave feedback either below or on our Facebook page.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a committed dad. Let that role help define you more and more. Through the challenges of life—and especially when something seems too much to handle or determined to go against you—think of your kids, your love for them and your commitment to them. Being a dad gives great meaning and purpose to your life; it shouldn’t be your only purpose, but it’s a great one to have near the top of your list.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
- Enjoy the snow with your kids in some kind of backyard Olympic-like competition. (Let them come up with the “sport” you’ll try.)
- Get online with your child and look up an athlete or two that you can learn about and then watch together when they compete. Check out NBCOlympics.com and TeamUSA.org for more information.
- Set aside time every day to help your child develop a skill, whether you’re rolling a ball back and forth with your infant or helping your older child practice a sport or finish his homework.
- Plan to spend a solid hour this next week with each of your children, one on one. Tell each one, “Let’s do something together. You choose.”
- Arrange to bring pizza during your child’s lunchtime at school. (Bring enough for a few friends too.) Or volunteer to help with the Valentine’s party in your child’s class.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.
Photo courtesy of David Wise.
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