Dads make the best coaches

Published 10:13 pm Friday, September 14, 2012

Few things make the toil of fathering more rewarding than words like “You’re the best coach, Dad,” from your rough-and-tumble 4-year-old son.

Recently, my son said just those words to me as I shuffled through our yard dribbling his soccer ball with my feet, carrying his sleeping 5-month-old brother in my arms as his 2-year-old sister kicked her pink ball with her pink purse swaying and his 6-year-old brother heckled us from the sidelines.

The truth is, I’m surely not the best soccer coach. I was a fair player in leagues as a boy. Just as surely, I’m not the best dad, though I work hard at it. At moments like that I’m more than a little amazed I’m not a miserable failure of a father.

Email newsletter signup

My father was nonexistent in my life. He lived out of state, wrestling with personal demons that kept him imprisoned — locked away from my sister and me. Thanks to the fine example of men that God has allowed to be in my life, I have not allowed the scars of his absence follow me as a man.

My sons have no idea that I’m not the best soccer player in the world. To them, I may as well be the great Brazilian soccer player, Pelé.

As I kicked the ball, the thought occurred to me “I have almost no memories like this from my father.” Then a stronger voice spoke up saying, “You do now.” I get to see the world through the eyes of my sons and daughter. God heals me through them and nurtures them through me. What a surreal and sacred duty to be a father.

While every child has a different personality, they all have similar needs. Every baby needs the comfort of a mother. A baby craves its mother’s nurture. God has woven such needs into the very fabric of children.

The home is the incubator of society. Boys need fathers to teach them how to be men. Girls need fathers to teach them what the love of a man looks like. A father who gives his daughter attentive love gives her a gift that will never perish.

I know more than one man who struggles to provide materially for his family while finding time to invest in them emotionally. That is a painful place to be. It can be tough to carve out even a few minutes to kick a soccer ball.

Dad, find the time. Make the time. Their childhood happens only once. We don’t get it back. In them, we make the future. In them, we invent tomorrow. In the marathon of fatherhood it’s easy to get weary, but the prize is worth every inch of the journey.

The English poet and pastor of the 16th century, George Herbert, wrote, “One father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters.”

Dad, do whatever it takes to be their coach. You are the very best coach, just because you’re Dad.