Being thrust into fatherhood is something comparable to tumbling into a lion’s den: you wonder how you ever got here so quickly and have no idea what you are going to do next. At least that’s what I imagine it would feel like plummeting into a lion’s den, which, gratefully has never happened to me. The word thrust was specifically chosen, however, because regardless of how prepared or ready one feels when taking on the role of parenting, there are frequent surprises, twists, turns, and situations that were never anticipated or expected.
As a father myself, I have experienced what I believe are similar sentiments. It’s an interesting phenomenon when everyone is looking to me for guidance in a certain situation I have never before experienced and, frankly, have no idea what to do. Perhaps, these are familiar and seemingly simple occasions like a toddler running up-and-down the aisles in the pew during church or a temper tantrum that occurs right in the middle of the floor at the local grocery store during the busiest time of the day. At other times the situation is more difficult, like comforting the daughter who never gets asked out on a date or worrying about the one that does but is neither home nor answering her phone an hour after curfew. These occasions are just the beginning of conditions you’re sure to experience sometime as a father, as well as many other situations so acute and surprising that there really is no time to prepare or think before reacting. And on occasion, fathers are asked to show great amounts of courage and to show an aura of strength by suppressing the sick feeling in their hearts while they tell a daughter her husband or child has just been killed in an accident.
Yes, fatherhood can feel similar to the sensation of going down a staircase and stepping into the air on the final step you didn’t think was there. Just for a moment, shock courses through your body from head-to-toe as you realize you’re falling forward. In that instance before you have time to think, the floor appears and a terrible mistake is avoided…sometimes.
When the following occurs:
- A child with a skinned knee runs to you to fix what’s broken
- Your children say “Thanks so much dad. You’re the best ever”
- One of the members of your family achieves some “great” triumph
- Son-in-law-to-be sees in your daughter what you have seen all along
It is at that very moment you realize fatherhood is the best calling in life and worth every sleepless night, every overtime shift, every relinquished comfort, and every sacrifice that was really no sacrifice at all. Making the correct decision in the heat of the moment feels so good, because it heals, lifts, and inspires those we really love when they need it most. Fathers are in that very position where they can have influence. Still, we can learn some important lessons from those that fan the flames for our feline friends. These are common principles that apply to us all:
- Be prepared – no one can anticipate every single situation that will come about inside or outside of the lions den, but we can be prepared and even role play our expectations and our reaction
- Set ground rules – lions like to know what is expected and they generally dislike surprises
- Endorse repetition – just like lions need to practice small tricks over-and-over until they become second nature, we need to communicate our affection sincerely and frequently with “I’m sorry “ and “Please forgive me” and a constant stream of “thank you” and “I love you”
There is an important principle in business that also has application in the home. It’s called the Law of Reciprocity and goes something like this:
When a customer experiences a problem that is promptly and completely addressed, their loyalty to the business increases faster and longer than if no problem had occurred at all.
And since fathers take time to heal our wounds, lift our spirits, and love our mothers, we are better people because of them.
That’s what father’s do best.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.