Today is another momentous day for the #40Days40Dads project, as my father-in-law has taken the plunge! While I have only experienced his fatherly ways as a beloved grandfather to my 25 nieces and nephews, Grandpa Niehaus1 must have done something right as a Dad–he raised 5 sons and 5 daughters to love each other, love God and approach life through a combination of fun, hard work and radical generosity. Grandpa Niehaus and his enormous family are unconditional givers. They share meals and laughs, talents and tools. They also share their faith, routinely filling up nearly one whole side of their church at 8:45 a.m. Mass on Sundays.2
I am grateful to Grandpa Niehaus for the wit and wisdom he shares below, as well as for raising a family that has made me one of their own and a daughter who will help me raise our own children–hopefully in the same spirit. Thanks, Grandpa Niehaus!
#14: Grandpa Niehaus
Grandpa Niehaus is the father of five sons–ages 43, 41, 40, 36 and 33, and five daughters–ages 37, 30, 26, 24 and 22.
What was the moment when you first felt like a father?
It was the first time of holding the creation the three of us brought into this world. It takes three: man, woman and God!
What’s your favorite part about being a father?
Watching your children grow, not only in age and maturity, but growing in their Catholic faith and watching them as they teach their children about life and Jesus.
What’s the hardest part about being a father?
There have been so many good parts that I have been blinded to the hard parts of being Dad. One of those hard parts was getting your crying breast-fed baby to sleep when Mom was not home! In nature moms and babies know each other by scent. Solution: Rock the baby in Mom’s PJ’s…and get to rocking!
What’s the dumbest/funniest thing that your kid has cried about or fought with you over?
Even though siblings love each other, when they are young they hit each other for some dumb reason. Our four youngest are girls. It seemed like they hit each other more than the older ones did. After all else failed, we found a simple rule to stop the hitting. Anyone who hits, plus anyone who gets hit, stands for 15 minutes with their nose on opposite jams of the same door, in a central location where everyone can see. When you’re young, 15 minutes is an eternity! When two of our older sons heard of this rule the older son grabbed his younger brother’s shirt collar, saying with a laugh, “I remember some times when I would have made those fifteen minutes worthwhile!”
What are you most proud of having taught/shared with your kids or what are you most looking forward to teaching/sharing with them?
I look forward to continuing to teach my children and grandchildren love for nature and all of God’s creation.
What’s your favorite thing about your kids?
As adults, it shows that they actually like and love each other. They treat each other with respect and help each other.
If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice when you first became a father, what would you say?
The older your children get, the faster time flies.
Any other comments to share on fatherhood?
Let there be no doubt in your wife’s or your children’s minds that you love them just as they are…they are perfect! Also, let your grandchildren know Grandma is still your sweetheart!
If you’re a father or you know a father who would like to share his story, send him to this link to answer the questions. Stay tuned for another dad’s crib notes tomorrow!