This Father’s Day, as I reflect on what it means to be a dad and think about the kind of father I want to be, here are a few of my thoughts on “being a dad.”
Did I always want to be a dad?
Well, when I was a kid, I just assumed I would be a dad, but I didn’t really want to be a dad. What I really wanted to be was Leonardo from the Ninja Turtles. As a teenager, I definitely wanted to be a dad someday. But not right then. Now here’s my perspective on being a dad.
How did I learn to be a dad?
I’ll tell you when I figure it out. I haven’t learned. I’m learning. I fail ALL the time. When I fail, I try to fix it. Sometimes I make the same stupid mistakes.
What’s my favorite dad memory?
One of my favorite memories as a dad was probably the time my son Lukas pooped in my lap. (Not really.)
No, honestly, one of my favorite memories is when we were camping a few years ago. We all woke up except for my youngest son, Asher, because it was thundering so loudly. There was a huge clap of thunder, and this time, it woke Asher up. Usually, he would go to mom for comfort. That time, he rushed to me and climbed on me, clawing at me and shaking. Up until then, I didn’t have that kind of connection with him. But, at that time, I knew he was depending on ME to be his protection.
Feeling his need for me was humbling (until the next huge clap of thunder hit and I got a little scared too). In a moment of sheer panic–fight or flight–I was the one he needed. He fell asleep in my arms.
What’s my favorite thing about being a dad?
My favorite thing about being a dad is probably the snacks. Just kidding. My favorite part is experiencing things for the first time over again with my kids. Watching certain movies and watching them enjoy the magic of Harry Potter or Star Wars. Telling them stories and watching them experience them for the first time. Watching their excitement creates excitement in me. I remember my excitement the first time I pulled the master sword out in Ocarina of Time. I recently watched Lukas pull the sword out for the first time and experienced his excitement.
What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?
As a dad, the hardest thing I’ve had to do is to tell my kids “no” and not give them everything they want. It’s about trying to teach them contentment, selflessness, and compassion.
What scares me most about being a dad?
What scares me most about being a dad is the idea of failing them. Of not being enough. Not being what they need when they need it.
What’s one thing you want your kids to remember about you?
The one thing I hope my kids always remember about me is that I loved their mom. That their dad set the example of how a man should treat a woman and how a woman deserves to be treated.
What’s the most important thing you want to teach your kids?
As a dad in New Mexico, I think the most important thing to teach my children is respect for people and cultures and beliefs that are different than their own. Largely, we’ve been surrounded by people that share some level of that. As they venture out on their own and experience new things, I want them to go into it with a sense of curiosity. But even more than that, a large sense of respect.
What’s one piece of advice you have for a dad who might be struggling right now?
If I can give one bit of advice for a dad who is struggling to connect with his kids, I would tell him to just be there with them. Do what they want to do. Be excited about the silly things they’re excited about. Sometimes you have to do stuff that you don’t really want to do because the kids love it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe it’s playing Ninjago in the front yard, getting your nails painted, or watching Urbosa videos online.
About our Guest Writer
Ryan Navarro is a native New Mexican. He has three beautiful children and a stunning wife. He enjoys studying history, playing “Legend of Zelda,” and eating tacos. Follow Ryan on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
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Originally published June, 2020.