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Parenting like my dad

2.10. 2016 Posted By: The Mennonite 562 Times read

Bethany Simpson lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, John, and their two boys, Ian and Shane. She enjoys a lot of what Colorado has to offer, including the mountains, the perfect weather and the Denver Broncos. She is an active member of Glennon Heights Mennonite Church. Bethany loves reading, hot coffee and relaxing at home. 

Eleven weeks before our first son was born, my dad died suddenly. Two days before he died, my birthday, he was at my house, laughing at the fact that my pregnant belly was the one that created distance between our hugs. Then he was gone and everything was different. The end of my pregnancy and the first few weeks after Ian’s birth were a mixture of my greatest joy and my deepest grief. My dad was going to stay with us for a week after my husband had to go back to work, and I haven’t felt such a profound absence before or since.

My dad was the person who was always available to me. I would call with a simple question for him to answer, or just to have someone to talk to. Growing up he packed my lunch everyday and made me coffee in high school. We had inside jokes and hundreds of shared memories because our connection was important.

I want to be the parent he was. When I look back on what was most important to me as his child, it was his presence and attention. It wasn’t necessarily what he said, but that he was there. He read me bedtime stories, sang me lullabies, played games with me. He saw me, he got me and he knew me.

He taught me a lot of things, but the most important thing is to pay attention. He always saw hawks flying beside the road. The first time I saw a Bald Eagle was because he spotted it while we were driving. He also loved to walk through the recently plowed fields in Ohio hunting for arrowheads. He paid attention to the weather, to gardening, and to God’s calling in his life, among other things. After he moved to Colorado, he recognized the important role that water rights play for farmers here, and he started to learn all he could about that.

He taught me the importance of paying attention to each other: Remembering people’s names, a joke they thought was funny, or something important to them. When Ian was younger, we would spend time at dinner talking about our favorite part of the day, then with intention we would listen with our ears and eyes while the other person was sharing.  It became something Ian would ask randomly, “Mommy, what’s your part today?” When we asked him, he usually said, “Um, probably eating dinner to you.”

Now at the dinner table we ask each other what we’re thankful for. Sometimes it is hard to get anything serious or deep out of a 7 and 4 year old, but we feel that making it a point to do these things now will show their importance in the future.

One of the saddest things about losing my dad is that he isn’t here to be a grandpa to my kids; that they don’t get that attention directly from him the way I did. My hope is that Ian and Shane will feel my dad’s love and presence through my actions as a parent. I struggle daily to live up to that, but my dad also taught me a lot about grace, and for that I am grateful.

Every other Wednesday, we’ll be publishing posts about parenting, faith formation, family and Anabaptist identity. You can also read past parenting posts

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4 Responses to “Parenting like my dad”

  1. Lacey Hardwick says:

    oh Bethany! What a beautifully written post. 🙂 It sounds like your dad was a wonderful father and example. I didn’t grow up with that in my life and I’m sad for it sometimes but – I’m so thankful to know my Heavenly Father and he is a Good Good Father.

    Thank you for sharing!
    Love ~

    • Linda says:

      That was beautiful and bittersweet. I never dreamed that my son would follow the same career path as my dad. I often picture what great conversations they would have about their jobs, grandfather and grandson together, and I feel sad. Thank you for your article. There are many who can relate to what you wrote.

  2. BeejSteph says:


    That Was Absolutely Beautiful! Your Dad Was Such An AMAZING Man Just Like Your Mom Is Such An AMAZING Lady!! I Remember Your Dad So Well From When I Was A Young Girl…Mostly Because I Knew His Mom, And Loved Her So Very Much. Your Dad Learned To Listen Through Ms. Edna…There Is No Doubt In My Mind As To Their Likeness!!
    Shane And Ian Are Truly Blessed To Have Such An AMAZING Mama, Who Had Such A Wonderful Daddy!! You Are Definitely Teaching Your Boys About Ron Even When You Don’t Even Realize You Are Doing It!! Keep Doing What You Are Doing Ms. Bethany…And When You Miss Your Daddy The Most…Go Sit Outside And Just Be Still….I Promise You Will Hear Him Talking To You 🙂

  3. Frank Lostaunau says:

    If you love your children they will thrive and grow as tall as a tree!

Leave a Reply to BeejSteph