I celebrated my son’s first birthday this week and have been reflecting more than normal on my new role in life as a Dad.
A friend who was visiting last Sunday had to discipline his son for disobedience. I was amazed by his coolness of head and love expressed to his screaming son. I realized though, as he spanked his four-year-old, that I identified more with the son than with the father here. I was remembering times I was spanked as a boy. It dawned on me “Jay, wake up man, you’re the dad now! You’re gonna have to discipline your boy soon. You’d better prepare your heart for that. What kind of dad are you gonna be?”
On the subject of fatherhood I’ve found myself reflecting on the two films I’ve most recently viewed; Fireproof and John Adams (the HBO miniseries).* Fireproof is not primarily a movie about fatherhood, but as I think back to it, the character who comes mind most often is Caleb’s father. I keep thinking back to the amazing character and strength of this father who saw his son on the brink of a terrible decision. How did he respond? He loved, he encouraged, he challenged his son in a way that showed he still believed in him even on Caleb’s darkest day.
I contrast this with the portrayal of John Adams in this mini-series I’ve been watching. One of sad things we’re reminded of throughout the series is that men of greatness in the world’s eyes often become distant men in the eyes of their children. In the series you see John Adams spend his most of his children’s childhood and early adult lives traveling around as a founding father, diplomat, vice president, and ultimately president. He was a hard father. The interplay between he and his boys is most strongly seen in moments when his adult aged boys come to him for approval or support, instead they get pressure, disappointment, and sometimes even insult.
In these performances we see a busy, powerful, important father who responds to his children often in anger, shame, pressure to perform and disappointment when they let him down and only with happiness when they meet his expectations . In Fireproof we see a dad who loves his son in the darkest moment, who is patient with imperfection, who loves at all times and who will make great sacrifice for his son.
A ask myself, as my boy turns 1, what kind of dad will I be? I ask as well, What kind of Father do we see God to be? Both very important questions.
*two notes about John Adams the miniseries. 1. I have no idea how historicaly accurate the portrayal of Mr Adams and his sons is. I reflect on this more as a character in a movie than as a historical figure. Secondly, this miniseries is not suitable for all audiences. What do you think? Leave an opinion in the comments.
You can buy fireproof here