Veteran father of four speaks to America’s dads

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This essay was first published on The Daily BS on June 15, 2024.

In honor of Father’s Day, I decided to interview one of the best fathers that I know, my beloved Mr. Schrock, for his insights on being a dad. For 34 years, I have watched him learn and grow as he’s parented our four sons. He has much to teach us, and I’m so grateful that he has graciously agreed to let me pick his fertile brain.

I began by asking him this question. “What has surprised you most about being a dad?”

These were his words. “That the boys like me and I have a place of honor with them.” Having been at his side for his entire paternal career, I know why this is. He has worked hard on himself. His sons have watched him do the tough personal work, and along the way he began to practice honoring his children. Honor begets honor, and his sons are simply reflecting back to him what they’ve received.

“What have you learned from your boys?” I truly wanted to know, and he told me.

“That each one is different. That kindness, grace, and love are foundational (for) each one, and they work wonders with everyone.” He added with a chuckle, “And that not everything has to be done right now.” Just like that, I thought of the countless times he’d laid out chores for them to do and, in typical Type A fashion, he’d expected them to be done yesterday, if not before. But now, he’s softened the old approach.

To my query about the hardest part of being a dad, he had this to say. “I have to make decisions; hard, disciplinary decisions.” When I asked him about his standards or criteria for making the hard choices, he said that he always considered what was moral, godly, and in their best interests.

“What,” I asked him, “do you wish you had done differently? If you could go back and speak to that young father, what would you tell him?”

He sobered. “Please don’t be so angry.” He acknowledged that there were good reasons for the anger he carried earlier in life, but that he still should not have parented from that anger.

“What do you think you did well?” That was the next question on my list.

To this, he replied with confidence, “I’ve provided well. I’ve been a good manager. I taught them how to work and how to treat a woman.” And then this most poignant insight. “I loved their mother.”

Lastly, I asked him if being a father has changed his view of God and, if so, how? He said, “I understand his mercy now. I understand why he takes his time, why he gives grace, why he gives us chances. I understand why he says, ‘If you love my son, you love me.’”

What a powerful thing to come from this man’s lips. For years, we agonized together over a son who’d gone wayward. Lost in the world of drug addiction and reckless living, he was estranged from God and away from home. We were crushed. Yet, it was during those long, hot years that we both began to change. We began to examine the broken parts in our own hearts and lives, and we took them on.

For my husband, it meant freedom from a lifetime of anger. In one moment of time, it was completely taken away when he turned to God in fervent prayer. From that day on, he was a different man. A different husband, son, father, and friend. And just so, transformation began.

Rather than seeking to control his errant child, he began to pour out upon him all the grace, mercy, and love that he was now receiving from his heavenly father. He began to pursue him with great intention and a steadfast, unswerving, unconditional love that was wholly independent of his terrible choices or heart-wrenching condition. He prayed relentlessly, refusing to give up hope. And one day, it was over. His son returned at last.

I can tell you now that his sons adore him. They highly respect and admire their father. Often, his phone will ring, and it’s one of the quartet, asking for Dad’s wisdom and advice.

When this precious man is tempted to flog himself with a stick called Regret, I simply tell him this, “Hon. Our children are watching something that many people will never see from a parent; they are watching redemption.” The boys have seen their father humble himself and ask for their forgiveness when he’s gotten it wrong, and they listen with all their ears when he teaches them what he’s learning about how to do it better.

It is impossible to overstate how powerful this is, how transformative for any family. When parents change, it alters the course of future generations. The breaking of old, dysfunctional patterns and the establishment of new ones is no small thing. It is a huge, lifechanging, and eminently doable thing.

Our sons and I are so very blessed to have this man at the helm. He is a man of nobility and character who loves his God, loves his boys, and loves their mother. May every family be so blessed.

To all the dads today, “Happy Father’s Day!”

Every Saturday morning, America’s small, caffeinated mom appears on the James Golden Show. Together, they discuss the week’s essay with humor, warmth, and wisdom.

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