From the moment he changed our daughter's first diaper to helping our son on the computer last night with his homework, DH has proven his love for his children in myriads of ways. I don't always accept and admit this, though.
For whatever reason, this area of our relationship has been the hardest for me to praise him, or at least to give him the credit due to him. Rather, with much chagrin, I confess that over the years I have reinforced his feelings of inadequacy by pointing out his failures; painting the picture of an absent, elusive, emotionally withdrawn father.
The "cards were stacked" in his life circumstances to pour my DH into a concrete mold that personified a distant father. His father, the oldest of eleven, was abused severely by an alcoholic monster. DH grew up in a matriarchal home, with his father gone for days as a truck driver. DH was adopted; a sure formula for attachment-disorders, and rejection issues. He fits the pattern of the typical work-driven, Type-A personality. All of these ingredients are almost guaranteed to produce a textbook version of the "deadbeat dad".
But, Father God, the Creator of my DH, broke the mold, canceled the curse, and released the chains of sin, when He redeemed him (bought him back from the devil)! Sure, DH is quite prone to forgetting his children at church and driving home without them. Yes, he has had his share of meetings and appointments that took precedence over ball games and plays. But, overall, DH really has shown a consistent, faithful, loving presence to our children.
Sometimes he takes me by such surprise that I fall speechless and can't find the words to express my appreciation to him. Such was the case when he gently lifted our newborn baby girl from the hospital bassinet, hours after she left my womb, and proceeded to change her first diaper, without prompting from me or anyone else.
In a similar display of practical attention, shortly after our arrival home from the hospital with our newborn son, DH came home with several bags of baby and toddler clothes from Wal-Mart, with matching sets of tops and bottoms so that he could help with dressing them.
Sometimes I think it messes with my role as primary nurturer and caregiver, "Super-Mom", and causes me to feel insecure or jealous on a subconscious level or something. But, Dad is nurturing and caring in a different way: providing for the practical needs of the household, showing a manly, strong support for the children's emotional needs. He balances out the soft, over-protecting "smother-love" that I am prone to dish out.
That's why I need to recognize and praise his deeds of love, to reinforce his behavior in a positive way, just like a pet-trainer would! I am thankful for the power of change through belief in a God Who transforms. Lord, help me to work with him and not against him in his efforts to be available, both physically and emotionally, to our children.