Father to be, with his pregnant wife.

Father's Day Rookie

Technically, Adam is a father this Father's Day.

I know -- he hasn't changed a single diaper, or taken a turn staying up late with a fussy baby. He hasn't rocked his son to sleep, or bounced him on his knee, or tucked him sweetly in his cradle. And there isn't one spit up stain on any of his jackets or collars.

But he's still a father this Father's Day.


Adam's first child won't actually be born until September. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we already know he is a boy -- he and Andrea have named their son Alexander -- and that he has Adam's nose and, according to one observer anyway, Andrea's eyes (although I can't for the life of me figure out how anyone could tell that -- I mean, his eyes are still closed, for Pete's sake!).

So Adam is still a rookie when it comes to being a father. He's doing a great job of taking care of Andrea through a sometimes-difficult pregnancy, so he's earning his stripes there. But he's yet to step up to the plate and take his first swings at hands-on fatherhood.

So you can't blame him if he's a little nervous about it. These are, after all, life's ultimate Big Leagues. The margin for error is slight. You can go from Hall of Fame Father to bush league dad with one raging outburst of anger and frustration.

Plus, the other team has great pitchers throwing hard, dirty stuff at you -- stuff like drugs, alcohol, gangs, cynicism and indifference. It's tough being a good dad under the best of circumstances. These days, with an extraordinary array of negative influences swirling all around us and blurring our values and priorities, it can be overwhelming.

Especially for a rookie.

Thankfully, Adam has a great image in his mind of what a father can and should be. He had a terrific dad, with whom he had a close and loving relationship. He has seen and experienced the positive influence of a good father in his life. But his dad passed away some time ago, so he won't be available to provide on-the-job training and encouragement. His mom is a great lady, and she'll fill in as much as she can. Andrea will certainly put in her two-cents worth from time to time -- you can count on that. And he has older friends and family members who will share their insights, experiences and -- occasionally -- warnings.

But for the most part, he's going to be on his own, trying to figure out fatherhood as he goes along. Which is pretty much what we all do, now that I think about it. My dad was around for my first 25 years of fathering, and I did solicit his input from time to time. But for the most part I just winged it. And with Anita's help and God's, things turned out OK -- if you don't count the overwrought late-night lectures, the "Russia has just taken over America" experiment and the incident in the cul-de-sac.

Don't ask.

Fatherhood isn't a science, it's an art. Which means that there are precious few hard and fast rules, and almost no absolutes. There are no textbooks, no laboratories, no scientifically calculated models that can turn you into a good father. It's something you can only learn by doing -- which means that what you do will occasionally be... well... wrong. But guided by love and fortified by faith, you can overcome your mistakes.

And so, thank God, can your children.

Even if you're a rookie.

~ Joseph Walker ~
Copyright © 2010

Joseph Walker began his professional writing career as a staff writer for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, eventually becoming that newspaper's television and live theater critic. Since 1990 he has written a weekly newspaper column called ValueSpeak, which has appeared in more than 200 newspapers nationally. His published books include How Can You Mend A Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World for Deseret Book, The Mission: Inside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for Warner Books and three ghost-writing projects.  Take a minute to let Joe know what you think of his story:  Joseph Walker
[ by: Joseph Walker Copyright © 2010 ( ValueSpeak@msn.com ) -- {used with permission} ]

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