What a tree frog feels like, how to soothe a sick child, I may be a zombie and other lessons from fatherhood

Published: Friday, June 14 2013 12:00 p.m. MDT

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Men and women who have children are more likely to live longer than those who do not, according to a study released last December by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

While health reasons, as mentioned in the study, may be one benefit to having kids in the home, this Father's Day several Utah dads commented on many other blessings their kids bring and shared what they have learned from their children.

Shaun McKnight of the YouTube channel Cute Girls Hairstyles wrote about what he has learned as a father to five girls and one boy:

"My children are teaching me to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. We often get too caught up in the daily schedule and operation of our lives to notice them. For example, nothing makes me stop and smile more than my 2-year-old daughter chasing our puppy around the house," McKnight wrote in an email to the Deseret News.

"Just the other day I found two more children playing for hours with old, empty boxes. Another picked a bouquet of dandelions for my wife. If we can take time to notice and enjoy these simple pleasures ... I am sure our daily stresses would feel much lighter."


Joe Kelly, author and co-founder of the U.S. advocacy group Dads and Daughters, wrote what he has learned from his children.

"I've learned to honor mistakes — mine and theirs. Mistakes give us the chance to learn such important life lessons; including the skill of forgiveness."

Brett Roberts of the Kid History video series wrote about what he's learned as a father of four kids between ages 6 and 14:

"I've learned from my children that a person can have fun anywhere, doing anything, as long as you are with loved ones. Some of my fondest memories involve hanging out with my children in some pretty boring situations.

"Long road trips, and destinations that we would not recommend to anyone, become times filled with fun, laughter and new inside jokes. We'll always remember the vacations gone wrong, not because of the arguing and hurt feelings, but because of their ability to turn them into a fun memory."


Blaine Wiggins, a filmmaking father of four, wrote about what he has learned from his kids:

"I could say that my kids and their great examples taught me all kinds of things this year, from the importance of serving others all the way to the importance of being patient and keeping your cool when you really don't think you can. My kids constantly remind me to not take myself or things too seriously.

"Recently the kids asked me if we could make our own Harlem Shake video as a family. We did, and all four of them embraced their inner weirdness to perfection in what I would call the most random moments we've ever had as a family. Their examples rubbed off on me (and my normally not-so-random wife), and the result was a great memory that we'll have forever."

Wiggins also shared stories that illustrate what each of his children have taught him:

Easton (10): "I changed roles at my job after nearly three years as a vice president the same week that Easton was elected VP of his student body at his school. He said, 'Don't worry, Dad, at least we still have one VP left in the house.' He taught me to look on the bright side."

Cambry (8): "She left a post-it note on the staircase one day that read, 'I love Mom and Dad. I hope they are not zombies.' She taught me that hope and faith are relevant, even in the most obvious of situations."

Colton (5): "His big sister was having a dramatic moment while we were out to dinner. She left to use the restroom. I asked him, 'What are we going to do with your sister?' His quick reply as he shrugged his shoulders: 'Sell her?' He taught me that spanking or grounding don't always have to be the last form of discipline."

Dawson (3): "He fell asleep on my lap one night while watching a movie. We didn't put a pull-up on him before he fell asleep. That night I was reminded of a favorite quote about helping others: 'Service is a lot like peeing your pants. Everyone can see you do it, but only you get that warm feeling.' "

Wiggins added, "I love being a dad, and I love the daily lessons that come from it."


Joshua Weed, father of three daughters and creator of the blog "The Weed"wrote about the many things his daughters have taught him:

"Of course, my daughters have taught me what God must feel for his children. And, yes, they've taught me, in a totally new way, what it means to love another human being.

"But they've taught me a lot of other things too: like what plastic princess shoes sound like on hardwood floors, and what a tragedy it is to get the pink princess bowl when you wanted the purple one with a pony.

"They've taught me that I am sometimes a very impatient person who loses his temper, and they've taught me what it means to totally forgive, tabula rasa.

"They've taught me about pure faith, and their fresh, simple pleas to heaven have taught me what prayer can really be.

"They've taught me to laugh at things I'd never noticed (like the way a tree frog in your hand feels like snot), and they've taught me to appreciate creation: water on a leaf, the beauty of dandelions, delight at finding a stone shaped like a heart.

"They teach me patience and they teach me strength. They help me see who I really am, the man I was always meant to be.

"My girls teach me how to be a better person every single day."


Joseph Ashby, father to the toddler basketball star Titus Ashby, as well as his three other children, wrote about what they have taught him:

"If there is anything that my kids have done, they’ve increased my capacity for affection.

"I never feel more valuable than when my kids are sick in the middle of the night. Whether they are freaking out because they’re throwing up, or their stomach is hurting, they're just very helpless. And I’m up in the middle of the night — and who wants to be up in the middle of the night? — yet I sort of relish in it and I think, 'Now I fell like I’m a good dad' because who else could be happy about doing this than me?

"They’ve taught me, if anything, there is a boundless ability for one human to love another, to the point where you would celebrate something that would ordinarily be a great chore, or something you wouldn’t want to do in any other circumstance, except being a dad or parent."

Christopher Jones, father of Mitchell Jones and author of the Mitchell's Journey Facebook blog, which chronicled his son's battle with Duchene muscular dystrophy, wrote about what Mitchell taught him:

"If it is true that we become what we’re labeled, my son’s label of me before he passed away has been indelibly etched in my mind and heart. Not because I believe it, but because I aspire to live worthy of that label.

"I have many miles to go. … With broken legs and a wounded heart I limp forward to that place beyond the hills, that place where I can fall upon him once again and kiss his hands and face and tell him that being his father was an honor and a privilege, to thank him for teaching me about the deeper meaning of life and love, to thank him for teaching me what it means to be a father.


"The most tender feelings are almost never spoken, but expressed through tears. ... I told Mitchell that I have cried for him the last two weeks because I was trying so hard to find a way to help him — and I told him, 'But you, my little son, you have helped me. Because of you I want to be a better daddy, husband and person. Thank you for helping me. Because of you I will never be the same.'

"My broken child has taught me that all the pedestrian things I may have thought were important were merely child’s play. A paradoxical reversal of values. A life lesson I intend to keep."

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company