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When We Failed as Fathers

Jeff:
We have a serious topic and a Q&A, and a question from you guys, and that is describe one time you felt like you failed as a father. Jeremy, I’d love to hear you go first on this one. Mainly just so I don’t have to be vulnerable first.

Jeremy:
I’m sure you would.

Jeff:
Exactly.

Jeremy:
Oh yeah, I’ll go first. Okay, so it’s so important you guys that nobody ever listens to Jeff and I and thinks that we think we’re perfect fathers, and that we got it all figured out. Man, so much of I feel like why I can communicate a lot about fatherhood is because I’ve done a lot of failing, a lot of trial and error, and it doesn’t come intuitively to me. I’ve met some amazing dads and I’m just like, “How do you do it?” But for me, it doesn’t come naturally. There’s a lot of elements of fatherhood that have been very hard for me to figure out, and so they represent times where I just… I really felt like I was dropping the ball big time.

Just to give you guys one concrete example, my son, Jackson, he was probably around 10 or 11 years old, and we were really like drifting at a heart level. I really wasn’t connecting with him and I thought I was fine, like he’s not doing too badly. But there was a lot of drifting going on. And just what happened was I actually had a mentor stay in my house for a couple of days, and he had the courage and he cared enough about me to tell me the truth. And he just said, “Hey Jeremy, just so you know, I don’t think your heart’s very connected with your son. I think he’s drifting from your heart.” And I was like, “What? Really, you’ve been to my house for two days and… ” But I really was like taken aback. Like, whoa, maybe that’s happening. Maybe he’s right. And so I was like… I sort of took him at his word. I took Jackson out for like a long conversation.

I sort of sat him down and I said, “How are we doing Jackson? How are you feeling about me? How is your heart?” And man, the floodgates opened up. Like this guy was a hundred percent right. We were really drifting apart. I couldn’t sense it. Again, I’m really dense in a lot of these areas. And so I needed somebody to really tell me like, “Hey, you’re dropping the ball here and you need to engage more.” And man, it’s so rare. I think about that moment, I think about how few dads ever have somebody to sort of see the inside of how they’re doing, let alone having that person to have the courage to say something about it. But that really saved, I think that season of my relationship with my son.

I don’t know what else maybe it saved, but it was really significant. And from that point forward I became a lot more vigilant about, oh, this is just a natural failure that I tend to struggle with as a dad. I tend to just really over assume things are okay at a heart level, and that things can can really drift a lot faster than I think. And that I have to be a lot more intentional then I would naturally be to really stay close to my kids’ hearts. And so that was, I feel like a major sort of failure season of my fatherhood that really I’ve been trying to figure out how to overcome and continue to struggle with, but I am working on.

So, do you have any you want to now share, Jeff? You feel like you’re ready yet?

Jeff:
Yeah. Now that you shared first. No, first of all, I think, man, thanks for sharing. And I think yeah, that’s such an incredible lesson to dads who are listening of what a gift it can actually be for an external loving kind of a voice or just perspective. People can see things differently when they’re kind of coming from a fresh perspective. Right? That’s true of anything in life where if you’re just doing the same old thing every single day, then I think, yeah, a lot of us, we start to miss the little gaps that are… The kind of little holes in the boat where water is starting to flood in. But someone who’s just in the boat for the first day can usually see them a little faster. And so I think, man, what a amazing thing that you welcomed that, and I think so many dads we can be encouraged to welcome that as well.

Yeah. For me, describe one time you felt like you failed, I’d say yesterday. But yeah, no, I think… Bigger ones I think of is, yeah, I definitely was one of those dads… And this is actually a husband dad thing that I failed at. First child, man, when Kinsley was born, I think one of the… It was a trial by fire and I just had this weird… I was very much the dad that believed like, hey, I might… Because I’m a divide and conquer type of person, give me a to-do list and I will just do my thing and you do your thing, and we’ll just meet up at the end. And that was really bad for our marriage and really bad for first parenting.

And what I mean by that is basically when Kinsley came I just was like, “Hey, I need to work. I need to do my thing.” But I just… Well, while Alyssa was over here sinking, and not sure being a new parent as well. But it got worse because I was kind of emoting or kind of giving the perspective of like, oh, I’m keeping up my end of the bargain. I’m keeping my… What are you doing over here? Right? Rather than, it’s clear now after a couple of kids I’ve realized, man, like that is… To some level when you have a new kid, a lot of stuff goes out the window and it’s just like who needs the help? What needs to happen? Fill the gaps, take it by the reins, et cetera. And I just failed at that miserably, man, to the detriment of, not even really bonding that well with Kinsley early on because I wasn’t even really as active and present in those first couple of months of wanting to just hang out with her and do nothing. But then also to the detriment of our marriage in regards to just, man, yes, certainly not feeling… Not loving and serving my wife and her needs and actually kind of gauging her heart of what would do that.

It was rather like, “Hey, I’m doing my thing and come on, you’re killing me over here not keeping up your end of the bargain.” So, guys, I would definitely say be mindful of that. That was something I learned kind of a trial by fire. I learned it by doing the wrong way. And just realizing that was kind of just a feedback loop of like, oh, this is not… This doesn’t go well. And so that was really… That was one I would say even though there’s a ton more, so we can do a whole Five Minute Father Podcast week on things we failed at.

Jeremy:
Yes.

Jeff:
But that’s one thing I would say guys. And so, yeah, I think… And I think let’s just end on what you said, Jeremy. Because I think it’s so true. And even what I just said with my example of like, you learn better through failure than success. You learn through like, ah, that hurt, I never want to do that again. Or that was poor way of doing it, I don’t want to do that again. Or that really put us a year off track, I don’t want to do that again.

And so, dads, don’t be afraid to really study your failures rather than run from them. Don’t be afraid to really learn from them. Don’t be afraid to ask other people to come in and point them out gently and in love. And that’s what I would say is huge. But any last things you would say there, Jeremy?

Jeremy:
Yeah, that’s good.

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