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A Father's Perspective: Dads slay dragons, just by listening

It amazes me how fast time flies. I remember the days my children were born, when I first held them and when I first heard the word, "Daddy!" Back then, with every step they took, they would wobble between a world of joyfulness and one of calamity. Every boo-boo could be fixed with a gentle kiss and colorful Band-Aid.

Although my children are still young, Mekiah, 10, and Skylie, 7, the time of boo-boo repairs are a thing of the past. Their mistakes and wobbly missteps seem bigger, resounding on a plane that I don't seem to quite understand. While scratching my head and wondering what their source of irritation may be, I still try my best to give them comfort.

You see, the idea of pain at their age doesn't just mean something physical, it may be the pain of sorrow, of not getting their way, of a bully at school or of sleeplessness. The list is endless. Now that they have grown and have become more independent, the Band-Aid approach has limits.

This is where many of us struggle as parents. When an issue seems trivial to me, I am tempted to tell my children to not worry, to move on or let it go. However, to them a particular issue may be the ugliest monster a child has under their bed. They may never feel secure unless they are shown a sense of compassion, no matter how big or small their issue.

Dads have a magical ability to slay dragons, monsters and the boogie man with a single act of listening. When my son or daughter tell me they are hurting, it's important they know I am there for them: listening and 100 percent engaged in their story.

As fathers, it is as if we are knights in shining armor and our children's well-being our battle fields. We push through the darkness and light the torch for them, slay attacking dragons and rest in the knowledge that one day our children will be able to slay those dragons on their own.

On a side note, to all who are inspired to give their children extra big hugs and kisses, please try to make time to watch the movie "Courageous." It is a touching, motivational movie that gave me long-sought resolve and meaning to my mission to be a loving father and husband.

Pop that popcorn, crawl up on the couch and prepare to be inspired by a movie that had a profound impact on my life.

Editor's note: Joe Johnson and his wife Amanda have two children. He is a licensed master trainer/consultant for St. Joseph's Area Health Services Community Health Nurturing Fathers Program and is a case manager for the FATHER Project, a program funded by Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota. To learn more about participating in Fathering Skills classes, call him at 255-2063 or e-mail josephjohnson@catholic