As I look back on the baptism classes I went to before my daughter's baptism, I remember a lot of talk about the role of parents in leading children to a closer relationship with God. However, as I have found out since her birth, that is a two-way street. She's only two so we don't yet have in depth conversations on Theology or the nature of God, but Fatherhood has opened my eyes and made me understand much of Christ's and the Church's teachings and explanations more vivid to me.
Writing this the first thing that comes to mind is the repeated references to the First Person of the Trinity as Father. I understand in a way that was not clear before how much more than I do, God the Father knows what's best for me. Any parents out there know immediately what I am talking about. I know its best for my daughter to go eat fruits and veggies instead of cookies, but she doesn't see it that way. For that matter, I am realizing through her how selfish I am when it comes to what I think is best vs. what the Father tells me is best. She is a wonderful little girl, but after all she is 2 and still doesn't think about much outside of herself.
As a Dad, I can understand now much better the level of love that the father had for his prodigal son. I understood the parable before, but feeling that powerful, unconditional love for my daughter has made it much more real for me. I couldn't imagine not taking her back if she were the prodigal daughter.
The other thing that jumps to my mind as I type this was an example from Story of a Soul. She compared a child who knows that the father is removing things that might trip the child vs a child unaware of the father's actions. The child who knows is more grateful, because the child who is unaware does not know that it happened in order to be grateful. After many times leading my daughter away from harmful things such as tripping hazards, I am realizing everyday that our Father removes many more things from my path and leads me away from many dangers I would have otherwise fallen into. I am grateful, but again the example has become much more vivid as a father.
I think the best example of how much having a daughter has taught me, was the other week at St Ignatios parish here in Augusta, GA. As my daughter and I left church and older lady from the parish remarked that with her penchant for pretty dresses, pretty hats, shoes and purses she is going to be expensive. I replied that "She is worth every penny." The lady said, "Think how much more the Father feels about us."
St Joseph and Joachim, pray for us.