Wisdom, Growth, and The Ability to Let.Them.Be. - Fathering Adult Children

For the last of my Father's Day interviews I thought it would be great to get the perspective of the “been there, done that” dad.  A dad who's been around the block, parented at every stage of upbringing, and could offer some amazing insight and philosophies in parenting. I immediately thought of Lee Stephens – a retired father of three adult children.  Lee is an amazing man, who always has keen insights on life and relationships, so I couldn't wait to see what he could offer to my Father's Day interviews.  I was surprised, amused, and humbled after completing Lee's interview.  Being a dad to adult children, he's got much to offer.

Name: Lee Stephens

Age: 80

Occupation: RETIRED
Children: 56, 53 & 46 years old


What were some of  your first thoughts when you found out you were going to be a father?

Learning for the first time that I was going to be a father came with many thoughts...and emotions...and QUESTIONS! Will the child be healthy? Is it a boy or a girl? What must I do as a new parent?

What was the first thing that went through your mind the first time you saw your child/children? What were some of the emotions you experienced?

I thought the child was beautiful. I had an overwhelming emotion of joy and pride, and the well-being of the mother.

Is there anything that you were particularly surprised by in parenting? Did you always see yourself as being one type of parent, but turned out to be just the opposite?

I don't recall ever being surprised in parenting. I never saw myself as being any type of parent except a good parent, and provider. I was both.

Can you share with readers a few things you've learned about yourself and about life, as you've parented babies, toddlers, teenagers, and now adults?

Here are some things that I've learned about myself and life as a parent:
About me first - I learned that I had to put my well-being first as a parent of a baby, a toddler, a teenager and an adult. I found it was much easier parenting when the parent is well...physically, mentally and working at a job. When the basic needs of the parent(s) are met, they can provide for the needs of the children; mentally and physically. Life is situational and you have to be adaptive and positive.

As a parent myself, I realize now that you never stop worrying about your children.  What is something you worry about NOW in regards to your adult children?

Worry is not part of my routine, however, I do become concerned about things that affect my children. I make my contribution and let things be. Children are going to do basically what they feel is right for them in any particular situation after talking it over, if asked. Worrying is not an option.

Has there ever been a time in your parenting life when you couldn't remember being more proud, or filled with love for your child/children?

I have always been proud of, and loved my children. You have to accept them as they are (not what you expect them to be.)

As kids grow, they tend to assert their independence and pull away from their parents.  How do you maintain the bond that you share with your child/children?

As a parent, I have taught my children independence and they assert their own independence.

It is no secret that children will do things in their lifetime that will lead their parents to say “I didn't raise you like that”.  How have you handled those moments? Have you let your children make mistakes, and learn from them, or have you tried to “save them from themselves”?

We all do things that we were raised up not to do. Children are no exception. We as parents cannot change our children's lives. We accept them.

What does the word “fatherhood” mean to you?

Fatherhood means being all you can be for, and with your children - with a bit of discipline, guidance, love, laughter and basic caring - ALWAYS. Throw in a set of life's rules, and allow for self-governing.

What has been the BEST part about fatherhood? Has there been a “worst” part?

Fatherhood has always been the BEST of times with my children.

And lastly, can you offer insights or advice to any new dads or dads to teenagers who might be reading this right now?

Dads: be a Dad. Love your children. Teach your children. The Bible is the best source for child rearing.