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Becoming a (Grand) Father
What I've learned from parenting two generations
Interview with Rick Johnson
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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Becoming a (Grand) Father
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1. Who was the most influential person in your own development as a man?

Coming from a home with an alcoholic step-father, I didn't have a positive role model to emulate. I mainly knew what I didn't want to be like as a man. Fortunately, I had several [men from sports coaches to a boss to a psychiatrist who each contributed to my growth].

But perhaps the man who most influenced my walk as a man was my first pastor, Stu Weber. Stu is a former Green Beret and a real 'man's man.' That gave him a lot of credibility in my eyes as a young believer. [He gave me] a lot of valuable insight in how an authentically masculine man conducts himself and lives his life.

2. What are some spiritual practices that equipped you to be a better father?

Without a doubt, the biggest was prayer. I was fortunate to learn early on in my faith walk the value of a man praying (one of my favorite verses is still James 5:16). I prayed with my family, with my wife, and over my children at night. That not only kept me connected with God, it allowed my children to see that I was accountable to a higher source; that I wasn't just making up the rules on my own.

Additionally, having a group of Christian men I met with regularly was huge. They provided me with a sounding board. Some had older children and could give me advice on situations our family was going through. Because I respected them they could speak to me about things I might not have received very well from my wife. [Being] accountable to them kept me balanced and striving forward even when I wanted to coast in my spiritual walk or my fathering.

3. How has becoming a grandfather shifted your thinking on fatherhood?

Becoming a grandfather was a seismic shift. I am in the unique position where we [adopted and] are raising our granddaughter, which means I am squeezed between being both father again and grandfather. Those two roles don't always mesh very easily. I now have to be a disciplinarian when I don't really want to be.

I have greater experience and much more patience than I had as a young father. But I don't have the physical stamina that I had as a young man. Ultimately, being in my position has caused me to rethink several aspects of my fathering including: how I discipline my child, being more intentional in teaching life lessons, and being conscious of using the power of my words to lift up as often as possible.

Rick Johnson is the founder of Better Dads, a program aimed at equipping and empowering men to lead and serve in their families and communities.

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