by Sally Matheny
|Want to Know How to Be a Great Dad? |
Pull Up a Chair.
You wouldn’t think something as simple as a chair would have a profound effect on parenting. But it does.
A well-placed and well-used chair can make all the difference. At least, it did for us. In our home, there was a special chair where my husband hung out and learned to be a great dad.
After our second daughter came along, he earned the title, “Bedtime Miester.” Each night, the girls shouted over the hair dryer, “Daddy, pretend we…” and the evening’s adventure plan unfolded.
They giggled at their Daddy’s funny antics and became mesmerized by his bedtime stories. Until finally he said, “enough is enough. Time to go to sleep.”
But it wasn’t enough.
They had to be rocked. Yes. Yes, they did.
Okay, maybe when they were babies, we were the ones who needed to rock them. The steady sway of the chair calmed the frenzy of our days.
The most calming aromatherapy is the smell of Johnson & Johnson’s baby wash. And nothing is more soothing than holding onto rolls of soft baby while listening to her gentle breaths.
Yes. It’s true. We ruined the kids.
Soon, they needed the rocking more than we did. And often, there was crying and gnashing of teeth before we heard that sweet sound of sleep.
Many nights, my husband was tired from work. Stressed. Ready to gel out in front Monday Night Football or Mad About You. But, those two, little chipmunk chatterboxes hugged, kissed, and begged their beloved Bedtime Meister to come sit in the chair in their room—the room where T.V.s have always been banned and imaginations encouraged.
Moments later, one could hear over the ever-flowing girly-babble, my husband begging for his release. Once again, he had been coerced into holding the Ken doll in yet another “Barbie episode.”
The children developed an early appreciation, and sometimes a manipulation, of the nighttime ritual.
After the drying of the hair, the playing and the laughter, and the Bedtime Meister’s proclamation that it was time, it began. Rocking. Listening to bedtime stories. Rocking. Nestling against their Daddy’s chest. Feeling the deep hum of his singing. Rocking. Saying prayers together. Rocking. Hearing the banter of who loves whom more. Rocking. Sipping water. Feeling sincere hugs and goodnight kisses. Then, begging for more rocking.
Eventually, the nightly routine stretched out ridiculously long. We had to slowly, and painfully, reduce the bedtime routine.
It’s funny how sleepless nights give the impression they’ll last forever. How the terrible twos (and threes), the potty training, and bedtime dilemmas can make time slowly stretch out, and parents rapidly stress out. You just want some peace and quiet. And sleep.
And then, it happened. The children outgrew the rocking chair. With this bittersweet passage came an endearing knowledge. They knew their daddy would always be there whenever they needed him. Sometimes a quick hug sufficed after a nightly devotion and prayer. Other times, a lengthy discussion ensued about the challenges in this world, why people act the way they do, and why we all need Jesus.
The last time for the girls would be on the night before their weddings. As he sat at the foot of their beds, he reminded them of his love. He talked about the challenges of marriage, why men act the way they do, and why we all need Jesus.
Even though the rocking chair sits silent now, it serves as a reminder of time well spent.
The chair was inexpensive. However, the building of strong relationships with our children has required sacrificial giving of time and effort.
My husband is a great dad. Is he a perfect dad? Of course not. But the heart-seeds this Daddy took time to press in, using the curved bands of a rocking chair, God has blessed. Although in a different context, those relationships continue to grow and bring joy.
What about you? Do you want to be a great dad?
Pull up a chair.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out Nurturing Strong and Courageous Children.