When I was very young, I quickly realized that popular perceptions of what it means to be a “Dad” did not jive with how my own father went about the job. Every day of my life, I have always known that being my dad was the single most important thing in my father’s world. He went about learning to be a parent with great intentionality – reading every book he could on the subject, talking to parents and mentors whom he respected, and also talking with me about the decisions he made – even the mistakes he made – as a parent, and why.
There isn’t enough space to enumerate all the things I have learned from Dad, but certainly one of them is that parenting is a partnership of mutual respect and honesty that requires an absolute commitment of time, energy, and priorities. Above all, it requires a boundless supply of love and grace.
I’ve never met anyone who has the kind of relationship with their father that I have with mine, although John-Francis Villines is always quick to point out that he and I also have that kind of uniquely close relationship of shared affection and trust. He’s kind to say so, but I think that’s cheating. In being the best father I know how to be to my own son, I am only following the example of the best father and the best man I have ever known.