30 Things I Have Learned About Fatherhood and Boys

When my wife and I prayed for a family, we didn’t understand why God made us wait nearly three years for our prayers to be answered. All of the heartache and pain didn’t seem necessary. Why would a good, loving God drag us through a desert-like season that almost cost us our marriage?

The wisdom of hindsight has revealed that God was simply preparing us for three boys. While infertility and marital struggles were challenging, nothing has been more challenging than parenting these guys. I do believe that their strong-willed, wild spirit will serve them well in life. But at times, I feel like it might break me first.

The Blessing of Fatherhood

God has an incredible sense of humor. He lavishes us in answered prayers in the most unusual fashion. For us, that looked like three years of infertility followed by three boys within fifteen months. And I’ll be honest, there were many moments in the first two years when I began to believe that my children were a curse, not a blessing.

I felt like a terrible father because my kids seemed to keep me from everything that I wanted. Just when I thought that I might get a night away with my wife, someone would inevitably begin vomiting. The stomach bug would ransack the house, leaving a sea of dirty sheets and an emergency trip to Costco for enough detergent and Clorox to sanitize a city block.

Selfish thoughts bred selfish thoughts that led me down an ugly rabbit hole. My well-behaved kids were a sort-of trophy that I could show off to others. Otherwise, they were an obligation.

It took a wake up call in the form of a stage three malignant melanoma diagnosis for me to understand that my priorities were grossly distorted. More than anything, my cancer diagnosis revealed my own selfishness.

As I reflect back now on the blessing of fatherhood, I am thankful for the grace of a Father who loved me enough to get my attention. For teaching me what it truly means to be a father.

30 Things I’ve Learned About Fatherhood and Boys

  1. Fatherhood is an uphill climb that requires strength you do not have. That is why you cannot climb alone.
  2. Childbirth and your wife’s recovery will remind you that the man gets the easy road.
  3. Passing out during the epidural makes for a great story.
  4. The birth of your children should move you to tears. The happy kind.
  5. The voice of your son’s earthly father will prepare him to hear the voice of his Heavenly Father.
  6. There is a precious innocence in the face of a newborn that you will soon forget. Commit them to memory.
  7. Your boys will see their Father’s love by the way you love their mother.
  8. The early poops don’t stink. I promise you, the one you’re changing will be topped.
  9. Don’t hold to your kids so tightly. Prepare them to leave. One day, they will.
  10. Your boys will constantly remind you of your worst qualities. Don’t let that discourage you, let it build you up.
  11. Make every moment full of wonder.
  12. Throw ball in the yard, play chase, and go for walks. Please don’t let him become glued to a screen.
  13. Chicks dig musicians. My wife did. Teach them about music.
  14. Don’t tell him what to think, teach him how to think.
  15. Use his questions as an opportunity to invest in him. “Why” is him thirsting for knowledge.
  16. You are the greatest educator he’ll ever learn from. You’re always teaching him something.
  17. Show him the value of hard work. Diligent hands will prosper.
  18. To be clear, hard work does not equal faithfulness. All work is rooted in seeking the kingdom first.
  19. Teach him to clean up after himself. Responsibility is learned.
  20. Yes sir and no ma’am are not just a Southern thing.
  21. Dance silly dances, sing silly songs, and laugh often.
  22. Invest in good insurance, you’ll need it.
  23. The best parenting is done on your knees. Pray with him. This is the beginning of humility.
  24. Develop their faith. Read the Bible.
  25. Say you’re sorry when you mess up and ask for forgiveness. He’ll see that you don’t expect perfection, just honesty.
  26. Buy an extra refrigerator. They eat like animals.
  27. Boys pee on everything. You’ve been warned.
  28. Discipline must be rooted in love.
  29. Good kids can make bad adults. Make it your goal to raise good adults.
  30. They’re God’s kids first.

Men, fatherhood is your opportunity to raise up a generation that fears God and carries His purposes into the world. And that is why it is so difficult. Because there is an enemy who wants to see you fail.

Join me in fighting well.

Do you have anything to add?

Leave it in the comments below or share it on social media and I’ll add it to the list.


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15 Responses to 30 Things I Have Learned About Fatherhood and Boys

  1. libbybailey09 November 29, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    Love this–especially “it doesn’t say raise up a child in the way YOU want him to go”. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, we will be relying on it soon (we hope)!!

    • Matt Ham November 29, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      I partially stole that from Andy Andrews and Mike Ashcraft but it is very true!! When’s old quatro getting here?

  2. Marie Bryant November 29, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    This article is wonderful. All dads and future dads should read it. Children DO watch and hear everything their dads say and do. Good reminder to us all, even us moms. Your three little musketeers are precious. Still loving your writing! How about an article on empathy and compassion, not as a dad, but in general?

    • Matt Ham November 29, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      Great topics Marie! Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Teresa Southerland November 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    E-mailed to my brother Parker, they had boy twins a year ago. Hope your Thanksgiving was awesome, hope you are enjoying the new HOME. Blessings to you and yours,!

    • Matt Ham November 29, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

      Thanks Teresa! I remember that – hope they are doing well

  4. Mark Jones Jr. March 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    You nailed it. #dadofthreeboysandonegirl

    • Matt Ham March 1, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

      Mark you’re brave with 4! Oh how my wife would want a little girl, but we’re in a holding pattern! Advice?

      • Mark Jones Jr. March 1, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

        My advice? Don’t wait too long to decide. “Children are an heritage of the Lord, and fruit of the womb is His REWARD.”

        • Matt Ham March 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

          Wise words!! Thanks Mark!

  5. Steve Long October 27, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    As an anesthesiologist I love #3! Been there, seen that many times. You hammered this lesson Matt!


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