Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley shares a little fatherly advice.
Paul Harvey, a long-time radio broadcaster known for his news and commentary shows, is credited with defining a father as: A man forced to endure childbirth without an anesthetic.
That quote is appropriate today because last week my son, Jacob, became a papa for the first time.
Out of respect for the privacy of my son and his wife, at this point I’m not going to share any details regarding my latest grandchild, other than to say mother, child and papa are doing well.
When news of the baby’s arrival came to the Henley household last week, I found it interesting that it was our daughter-in-law, Whitney, who called to deliver the much anticipated news.
When my five children were born, with but one or two exceptions, I was given the task of being Paul Revere and spreading the news.
So where was Jacob?
Holding his new child, allowing it put a face with the voice it had been hearing talk to it for months.
Jacob’s experience at child bonding was in stark contrast to my experience when Jacob was born over three decades ago.
At that time I worked for a small radio station in Southwest Missouri. Jacob came into this world late on a Saturday afternoon in early December. Jacob’s arrival happened to coincide with the final night of the Carthage, Mo., basketball tournament, where I was slated to broadcast a game that night.
The station manager later said he attempted to call my home to tell me to skip the game, a point my mother-in-law disputes to this day since she was there all day watching my oldest son, Caleb. Consequently, fearing my employment might be at risk if I blew off hoops to invest much time welcoming my new son into the world, I was able to stick around long enough to determine my newest child was a he, rather than a she, and make sure Jacob and my wife, Nancy, were doing OK, before I hustled off to work.
The fact that Jacob chose to hold his new child, rather than work the phones, says a lot about the type of father he’s going to be.
I’ve always known Jacob would be a great father by the way he interacts with youngsters. He’s always had the God-given ability to entertain children.
Jacob was adored by his youngest sister, Anna, after she came into the world. We always suspected Anna was a night owl as a baby because she was waiting up to catch a glimpse of her then teen-age brother after his evening shift at McDonalds.
One of my most cherished photos is of Jacob stretched out in a recliner, with his little sister, who always fought taking naps tooth and nail, fast asleep on his chest. Considering how skinny Jacob was, it must have been like sleeping on a washboard, but it obviously didn’t matter to Anna.
At 34 years old, Jacob is far more mature and prepared to be a father than I was at 21, when Caleb was born. And while I did the best I could, I have no doubt Jacob will be more of a nurturing father than I was. Jacob’s new child will be read to, sang to, talked to, prayed with and played with on a regular basis by its father. In short, Jacob’s child should never have a doubt it’s loved by its father.
In the days leading up to the birth of his first child, Jacob never once asked for any insights on what it means to be a father. That didn’t bother me, since I never sought parental guidance from my dad, either. In fact, I learned more what not to do from my dad, than what to do as a father.
If I were to offer my son a bit of fatherly advice, it would be to give his wife and child as much love as they can handle. But I know Jacob is already doing that, which puts him on the road to being a great dad.