The Fatherhood Cycle

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jul 12, 2014

“Lately all my friends are worried that they’re turning into their fathers. I’m worried I’m not.”
Dan Zevin

For about a week each summer I get to observe Noah, our grandson, as he continues to grow and grow and grow. How quickly these years have gone by since he arrived six weeks early on February 18, 2003. Somehow we just knew he couldn’t wait to join the Meyer family. 

Change comes quickly for a little boy. Before we knew it, he was eating Poppy’s World Famous Bar-B-Que instead of Gerber’s baby food. His diapers, along with his little bike with training wheels, were memories from the past. 

Now he is an expert in playing Monopoly and basketball, with his green Boston Celtics uniform, instead of playing with Thomas the Train and all of his friends. And, without question, he is much more technologically agile than Poppy or Grammy. 

Another change we have seen these years has been in his father, Kevin. What a joy it was to watch him move through his “little boy” years, graduate from high school and college and become an elementary school teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools. We can hardly believe he has been teaching for 20 years.

But during the past 11 years we have also seen Kevin become an amazing father. Each time we see him with Noah we realize how gifted he is as a father. He navigates wisely between gentle and caring boundaries while, at the same time, providing enough opportunity for Noah to be encouraged and challenged to keep growing. 

These thoughts bring me to a wonderful reading I recently found called “The Fatherhood Cycle.” 

4 years: “My Daddy can do anything.”
7 years: “My Dad knows a lot, a whole lot.”
12 years: “Oh, well – naturally – Father doesn’t know that either.”
14 years: “Father? Hopelessly old-fashioned.”
21 years: “Oh that man is out-of-date. What did you expect?”
25 years: “He knows a little bit about it – but not much.”
30 years: “Maybe we ought to find out what Dad thinks.”
35 years: “Let’s ask Dad what he would do before we make a decision.”
40 years: “I wonder what Dad would have thought about that? He was pretty smart.”
50 years: “My Dad knew absolutely everything.”
60 years: “I’d give anything if Dad were here so I could talk this over with him. I really miss that man.” 

Each season of life brings with it its own set of challenges. When Evie and I first got married and our children were small, we had a particular difficulty with one of them. I can’t even remember what it was. But we will always remember the words of one of our friends, the mother of grown children, who said to us, “Small children; small problems; big children; big problems.” 

I think that must be why John Wilmot said, “Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now I have six children and no theories.” 

In just a few days we will take that long trip to the airport for their return to their world in Minnesota. We will not see them for four months. But as I look at the pictures I took and the things we did, I will think about these things. Before long Noah will be a teenager and shortly thereafter he will be driving a car. Dating and college and, perhaps, a wedding will be just around the corner. 

But for now, we savor his 11th year. We will cherish the memories of our trip to Philly for an official cheesesteak, and to see the Liberty Bell. We will cherish the memories of a visit to Hershey Park, playing basketball in the VFCC gym and hosing each other down with water in the backyard because we all know the “Fatherhood Cycle,” in whatever form it takes, will move along way too fast.        

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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