Illustration by David Malan
When I was younger, I loved spending time with my dad. He always knew the best games to play, the best stories to tell at night, and the most interesting sports to try. It was like he was born to be a great dad.
Fast-forward my life to when I married my sweetheart, Julia, and then even further to the moment that our first child, Daniel, was born. I was filled with a rush of emotions. I was happy, shocked, amazed, and a little scared. I felt totally inadequate to be a father and to have the responsibility of teaching and being an example to my son. But I quickly realized that I’d been preparing all my life to be a dad. When I held my son in my arms for the first time and looked down into his face, I felt the Spirit touch my heart, and I realized that I was ready to try to be a great dad just like my own dad was to me.
When Daniel was very young, he already had a great sense of humor. He learned to tell hilarious jokes that would make my wife and me laugh. He also often said things that inspired us. Shortly after hearing President Thomas S. Monson announce the change in age requirements for young men and young women preparing to serve missions,1 we were driving in the car. Daniel announced that he would start preparing himself right then, at age six, so he would have 12 years of preparation. Then he said with a smile, “Dad, can I change the song from ‘I Hope They Call Me on a Mission’ to ‘I AM Going on a Mission’?” It was awesome.
Three years after Daniel was born he was followed by his brother, Austin. For me as a dad, it’s been great to watch both boys become best friends. And Austin has been just as fun as Daniel in his own way. He enjoys building and destroying block towers, and one of his favorite activities is to fearlessly wrestle me as if I stand no chance against his four-year-old powers. Of course, I give in and let him win—so I guess I reinforce his belief. But it’s so much fun. I know he’ll be a great wrestler, but what I want most is for him to wrestle “against the rulers of the darkness of this world” and “against spiritual wickedness” like it says in the scriptures (Ephesians 6:12). And I hope I’m helping to prepare him to do that.
We just recently had our third child, a baby girl named Faith. During the delivery, my wife was having some complications and we were scared for our baby. I gave Julia a blessing. Then she asked me to sing to her. The Spirit brought peace to both of us. Soon baby Faith came safely into the world. It was a miracle, and she definitely lived up to her name. Faith’s beautiful smile brightens my life. I can’t express in words how much she means to me.
For any young man still wondering, let me tell you: You were born to be a great dad. The world may not agree, but fatherhood is the best. Someday you’ll find that your kids inspire you, too, and that being a dad is the greatest adventure of your life. Yes, it’s a duty and something you need to take seriously, but being a dad is unlike anything else.