Loving Irregular Dads

My Dad- Russell Shanaberger

My Dad- Russell Shanaberger

Do you have an irregular dad? I did. Most people assume that all dads are normal. Well, some are not normal according to the world’s standards.

My dad was always different from other dads. He didn’t like crowds, so he didn’t come to special events such as award ceremonies, sports competitions, or even graduation. He was a man of few words, never saying “congratulations,” “good job,” or “I love you.” But in my heart I knew he was proud of me and loved me. He just didn’t know how to express it.

When I became an adult I would take him out to eat or go fishing with him. I can still remember as if it were yesterday how his pants slid off while he walked, and how he’d click his false teeth in and out in public. I would mention to him that he should keep his teeth in place while we were out, but he couldn’t seem to control that habit.

The most challenging thing for me about my dad was that he smoked. He couldn’t stop, even for the duration of a single visit. I’m allergic to cigarette smoke, so this made visiting with him difficult because I couldn’t breathe. But I’d give anything in the world for those times, even if they were hard.

My kids didn’t get to know their grandpa. I wish they could have. He was schizophrenic, and his mind continued to deteriorate when they were young. He is gone now, but I think of him often. I miss him, clicking teeth, smoke, and all, because I loved him no matter how irregular he seemed.

Maybe your dad isn’t all this world says he should be either, but he is your dad. It’s time to honor him, even if his quirks make him everything you wish he wasn’t.

He may never know how to say “I love you” or show that he loves you, but you will be freed when you give him unconditional love. When his profound differences make you squirm, let God give you His wisdom to act and say the appropriate things, and you will reap what you sow—abundant blessing.

Your dad may never give you the approval you think you need, but the truth of the matter is that you only need God’s approval. So be filled with the joy of the Lord, and be free to bless your earthly father with love that never fails.

  • Heather Marcotte said:

    I cried reading this.Reminds me so much of my dad.He was a smoker and an alcoholic.He did not likes crowds or public places either.I remember bursting into tears once when he put his arm around me because he never hugged me. But I knew he loved me.I loved him.i miss him and wish Gregg had the opportunity to meet him as well as the children. I love him even though he was an irregular dad.Thanks for sharing.I love you Sharon!

  • Kim C said:

    Thanks so much, Sharon, for this challenge and for sharing your heart!

  • Joy said:

    My dad is "irregular" too, but in such an amazing, great way. He definitely doesn't follow or fit the general definition of a dad, he surpasses it by a million in all he does and says. He is the perfect example to me of Christ's love, as he has lavished sacrificial, unconditional love on me. Dad's example of godliness has taught me all my life. His personal quiet time with the Lord every morning has fueled his days and prompted his actions and words. He is also a man of great fun and wit. Growing up in my home holds so many cherished memories...family game night, Sunday-night-after-church-Coke Floats, picnic suppers at the lake, Daddy-can-fix-anything moments, the excited call of "Daddy's home" when we'd hear the garage door opening and then the sound of footsteps running to be the first to give him a welcome home hug, long quiet thoughtful talks, sitting under his instruction as he shared wisdom from God's Word, holding his hand while he prayed for me and over me... Daddy also was "irregular" in just knowing what all 4 women in our home needed (my mom and 3 daughters). With just a vague hint he would know our desires...even if it was just a quick run to the store before we got our driver's license, and an offer to take us would immediately follow. Nothing was ever too large or too small a request. Today as I sit beside daddy's bed in the hospital as he has an "irregular" heartbeat, for the first time "irregular" doesn't suit my dad, but I have an "irregular" God who does more than I can hope or imagine, and together daddy and I rest in Him.

    Thanks for prompting cherished memories today,

  • Brittanny said:

    Thank you for this. Somehow I missed it! I can relate in so many ways it made me cry. I know God's love and approval is all I need in this world, but to be reminded to share that love and give unconditionally no matter the cost is priceless. My daddy was always my hero growing up as a little girl. Sadly as I've gotten older that perspective has changed, but I like to remember the times when I did! Just like when you had to endure the smoke, I've had to endure (and still d0) the harsh personality and the emptiness that comes with no response on the other end of the communication spectrum. Perhaps in time things may change (I pray for it often), but there's at least one constant: my love for him no matter what. If it's all I can do but show him Christ's love, I live out my days trying!



  • Jill Beran said:

    Just seeing this now and I'm grateful! Thank you for sharing from your heart and encouraging me to check mine!