Let’s be honest, Miracles from Heaven is a wild story. We watch a mom (Jennifer Garner) and dad (Martin Henderson) in desperation with their sick child (Kylie Rogers). Mom and dad are powerless. But through the difficulties, we see an example of, not a perfect family, but a strong family.
At NFI, we see father absence daily. Whether dad is fighting drug addiction, joblessness, or with his spouse, men sometimes deal with tough times in unhealthy ways. Tough times often place great strain on families. Throughout Anna's illness in this film, Kevin and Christy are examples of strength, even in weakness.
What can you do as a dad to maintain focus, strength and sanity during a tough season? This movie reminds me that when it comes to fatherhood…you won't have all the answers and you can’t fix everything...but you can be there...and that's enough.
Here are five ways you can practice being a great dad today, even if you're going through tough times:
1) Look at your children and encourage them.
As a parent, you’re busy. But take time to look your child in the eye. Be your kid's biggest fan. Call out what they did right in their choices and actions. Call out what you like best about them. Tell them you love them today.
2) Love on your children.
Consider how you spend your time. We have said for years at NFI, “Children spell ‘love’: T-I-M-E.” If you always seem too busy for your children, they will feel neglected no matter how many times you say you love them.
In this movie, Kevin (dad) is an involved dad. He encourages his wife, often repeating the mantra, “It’s a good life…” to his wife in good times and in tough ones. He quietly cleans up the vomit when his daughter is sick in the middle of the night. No one asks him. No one needs to ask. He’s there for every trip to doctor. When his daughter is getting a feeding tube, he’s holding her head. He sells his motorcycle and works night and day to cover medical bills. He’s there.
3) Listen to your children.
Spend time listening to your children talk about their day. Ask them questions and listen to what they say and what they are not saying. Listening will only take a few minutes, but the impact will last a lifetime.
When Kevin misses his older daughters’ soccer game during all the busy time of his younger daughters’ sickness, she forgives her dad because she knows he’s more than his last mistake. He’s there, even when he’s not.
4) Leave memories with your children.
Create routines like reading to your child every night. We wrote 6 Tips on How to Show Your Child Reading is Awesome and it’s one of our most viewed post ever.
Maybe reading isn’t your thing. In the movie, dad gives his daughter a dog to help her feel better. No, this doesn’t heal her. But it takes her mind off of her for a time and creates an opportunity for memories.
Consider cooking together. Cooking can be an awesome time for life lessons, whether in conversation or in actually using the kitchen. It doesn’t happen every Saturday, but a long time ago, I learned to make pancakes from scratch (as in not from a box). Not only do the pancakes taste better than from any box, it’s a time my daughters love to “help” in the kitchen. We try to do this at least monthly and especially around holidays. I imagine us making pancakes 20 years from now; hopefully I can trust them more with the eggs.
The point? Look for ways you can create memories with your child today.
5) Laugh with your children.
After all is said and done, make sure you laugh with your children. Sure, you have to make them do their homework and chores. But, be sure you work in some laughter. Imagine having a dad who never laughed. If you take the time to love, look, listen, and laugh, you will connect with your kids. You'll be the dad they not only want, but the one they need.
Christy shares a quote from Einstein where he said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Let’s decide now to live as though everything is a miracle.
In some way, be there. Being there may mean you’re overseas and FaceTime for five minutes. Being there may mean you get one hour per week to see your child on visitation. Be there. It may mean you’re home every evening but you have to get out of your habits and connect with your child on something they like. Be there. Whenever and whatever time you get with your child…be there…and treat it as though it’s a miracle…because it is.
Thanks to Columbia TriStar for having us bring you this post. We love watching and sharing films that depict strong fathers and families.