Fatherhood: The Definition of Success
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
These days there are all kind of articles, books, videos and podcasts floating around offering advice on self-help. Covering topics like embracing your “manliness”, how to manage your finances, how to be a sensitive partner in a relationship, how to be a great girl dad, or boy dad, or one of the most popular “How to Be A Success”. Some of these topics can sound very different and unrelated, but all these subjects can be used to better equip a man as he matures in all areas of life. I’ve read, listened to and watched many of these resources. However, a man who looks to God’s guidance on his relationships and role as a dad in today’s world, will be better prepared for success in all of areas of his life.
Definition of Success
Let me first address the definitions of success, because there is a lot of people who’d share their opinions that success is a way to define, or measure a man. That being said, in most folks’ eyes they view success as achieving wealth, or attaining some form of elevated status. In my younger days, I had a similar idea of success. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. Success is not simply achieving materialistic gains such as getting the dream job, having the “baddest” truck or biggest piece of land. It certainly isn’t being respected or being viewed as the toughest guy. I have learned that success looks like providing and cultivating the safety and security of a well-rounded family.
Our eldest daughter was born in May of 1998. I had just turned 23. That day was a flood of emotions ranging from fear to joy, but above any was the overwhelming feeling of love for her and her mother. Don’t get me wrong, I already loved my wife more than I thought was possible and knew I loved my unborn daughter, before her arrival. In those moments of joy, it doesn’t take long for self-doubt to seep in. What do I know about raising a little girl? I’m a tough guy. Can I provide everything they need financially? Can I protect her? What if she gets a disease? Will she go to college? What does daycare cost? Will she enjoy riding horses with me? Will she hate animals? Will she want to play sports? Will I get to still be me?
When I was first able to bring my new family home, my wife was not in the best condition. It had been a rough delivery experience, which ended in an urgent C-section and did not leave her very mobile. Like many men my age, you rarely heard of our dads changing diapers and feeding babies. I was a young man who spent most of my free time involved in horseback activities, roping and team penning, or shooting and hunting. I did a lot of jobs welding, gathering cattle with my horse and hauling hay, all that man stuff. The list goes on and on.
There is a misconception when a man performs tasks like changing diapers and giving your baby a bath that you are “helping out their momma”. Providing for the needs of our children as men, is not “helping out their momma”, is just as important as bringing home a paycheck. I’ve lost count of the diapers I’ve changed, bottles I’ve made and spit-up I’ve worn. Doing these things, didn’t give up any of my identity. If our roles were reversed, how would I feel doing all these things alone? How would our child feel, thinking one of their parents felt that their needs of being fed and changed was beneath them? These were times to bond and seize all aspects of providing for my family.
A short time later in August of 1999, we welcomed our second daughter into the world. This delivery was easier and I’d changed jobs. I was able to take some vacation time and spend some time at home; as we all found our new rhythm, with a newborn and a 14-month-old. We were in a little better position, but now I’m really getting outnumbered, three to one.
All jokes aside, I wasn’t worried about my identity as a man, or any silly thoughts that being an involved dad kept me from being masculine. On the contrary, I was growing to feel “manlier” all the time because of a sense of pride and empowerment in my role as a father and husband. Being more actively engaged in every facet of raising and caring for our daughters and a partner in life to my wife, I realized is what makes a man manly.
Ephesians 5:25 & 28
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself
In Revelations 12:9 the Bible teaches us that Satan is the deceiver of the world. One way he attacks the family is by planting seeds of doubt in our roles inside the family unit.
If you are reading this and find yourself in the unexpected role of fatherhood or motherhood, know you are equipped to provide and cultivate a safe environment of growth not only for yourself but also for those around you. You can be the parent your child needs and find fulfillment in the ultimate definition of success.