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Fourteen years ago – on June 11, 2010 – I became a father. Since then, my beautiful wife and I have welcomed a second child into the world. I’ve only been a dad for 14 years… and to just two kids. I have a grand total of zero degrees in child psychology or behavioral studies, and plenty of fathers have raised more children, done it for longer, and/or have done it better than I. I don’t claim to be an expert at this parenting thing, but the past year has been somewhat retrospective for me… especially when it comes to the relationship I have with my daughters. I’ve seen where I erred and made note of things that have worked well thus far. I’ve also witnessed firsthand how a parent’s love (or lack thereof) can have an impact on a child that lasts deep into adulthood. My hope is that some of my musings below might serve as inspirational thought starters for dads out there seeking to grow their relationships with their sons and daughters.

Jason Schoellen with his wife and newborn baby daughter

Where it all began 14 years ago. There must’ve been a lot of dust in the room. 😜


Years ago, my girls would cheer and squeal with delight when I kissed my wife. Now I hear groans as they turn their heads away. Have my displays of affection grown grotesque? I’d like to believe not (but my wife will have to be the judge of that). It has been more than 30 years, but the lasting image of my parents during my childhood is of them dancing in the kitchen. When my head hit the pillow, I knew mom and dad were in love. My support system wasn’t going anywhere. Don’t be afraid to let your children witness you being affectionate with your spouse. Hug them. Kiss them. Hold their hand. It might gross the kiddos out a bit, but I think there are few better things you can do for their sense of security.


As I walked down the hallway of my daughters’ school, I heard one of the teachers say “you’re going to have very strong daughters when they grow up”. Humbled by such a compliment, I asked what inspired her to say that. She noted how I use terms of endearment when addressing my girls. To nearly everyone my daughters encounter, they will just be called – and known – by their first name. But they can lay claim to something more: they are their daddy’s “sweetheart”. Perhaps for fathers with a boy, their son becomes his “buddy”… or whatever moniker strengthens the heart ties. Be creative. Make it personal. Make it memorable.


Believe me, it’s not always easy to take time out for kids. In a world where an increasing number of things are clamoring for our attention, it can become difficult to stop down – even for the people who matter most: your spouse and kids. Book some time on the calendar for bonding with your child. If possible, aim for some 1-on-1 time with each of them if you have more than one. Perhaps it is dinner, an age-appropriate movie (even if it’s one of the many family-friendly films available to stream on UP Faith & Family from the comfort of your couch), a sporting event, or seeing a concert featuring a group that has meaning for both of you. I’ve found that in addition to creating lasting memories, these are opportunities for my daughter(s) to open up and share what’s on her heart – even if it’s on the drive there or back. It doesn’t have to be expensive… and by pouring into them, you’re pouring into yourself.

Daddy Daughter date

Is it just me… or does the food taste even better when you’re with those you love?


Last fall, I attended an out-of-state men’s event where I did a lot of reflecting on my relationship with my daughters. I pondered how I didn’t always give them the attention they deserved. While I awaited my flight home, I sat at my terminal gate and wrote. I sobbed. And I wrote some more. I penned a letter to each of my girls letting them know how much their daddy loves them, what they mean to me, what unique qualities they possess that I admire most, and how I had fallen short of being the best father I could be. Upon my return home, I took each one aside and read their letter to them. I’ll never forget looking up (through tears) after sharing the letter with my oldest daughter, only to see her face as wet as mine. We hugged.


It’s never too late to make things right with your kids. In a world where e-mail and text messages have become somewhat impersonal, go old school and share your loving thoughts in a way that they can literally hold onto.


While attending the aforementioned event, a speaker suggested that “unexpressed love isn’t love”. It hit me. Hard. I jotted it down and it has stuck with me. Do I tell my kids that I love them? Or do I just assume that they know I do? I was often guilty of the latter. They’re not mind readers. Generally speaking, men aren’t prone to sharing their feelings – including with our spouse or our children. Kids want to hear they are loved. In many ways, they need to hear it. Don’t just reciprocate. Initiate. When they’re about to head out the door. Before they count sheep. Or just because. Hug them. Hold them. Let them know their dad loves them. It’ll stick with them.


A wise man recently told me that he holds his wife close and prays with her, adding that it is quite powerful. (NOTE: Inspired by him, I’ve tried it with my spouse. I can confirm.). I pondered why I had never done this with my children. I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased, but they are amazing kids… far more wonderful than anything that should ever have come from me: a testament to God and my wife. Sure, I had thanked God for the gift that they are, but I never spoke this over them. Placing hands on my child’s head and praying a blessing over them individually was a reminder to my daughters how they are precious to me. I hope it gives them the courage to walk forward in faith knowing that a loving father – and a loving Father – have their back.


Shortly after joining the ranks of parenthood, a friend of mine who was already in the club offered the following wisdom about children: “you make their lives; they change yours.” Fourteen years later, it still holds true… perhaps now more than ever. I hope this Father’s Day – and every day – is a rewarding experience of growing in love with your children.

Jason Schoellen used to write about racecars and other professional sports. Now, he shares his thoughts about family bonds, uplifting stories, and the slower things in life. He’s a husband and father to two girls, and is famous for his dad jokes and warm hugs.

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