Destin Dads on Being a Dad…

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Tyler Hartrick, Tad’s Dad
Many in Destin might know one of the most inspiring young fathers we’ve learned about recently—Tyler Hartrick, whose son was born Nov. 5, 2017, with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and cleft lip and palate and CHARGE syndrome. “To me, being a dad is doing whatever we can do to give our son the best life possible. At 18 weeks of our pregnancy we got the devastating news that there was a problem with our baby boy’s heart. We dropped everything and moved over 10½ hours away from Destin to seek the best possible medical help. This journey has already taken him through multiple different procedures, with many more to come. Being a dad to Tad means giving him every chance at life, no matter what the cost or time. My little dude is tough as it gets, and after all that’s happened, he’s happy every single day and almost never upset. He’s impressed everyone with his strength and resilience.

I think being a dad is the best gift you can have. Being the primary source of someone’s smiles and happiness is one of the best feelings in the world. I’m excited to be able to start teaching him how to do things like play guitar, fish, surf, sail, hunt and fun stuff like that. Also, he taught me responsibility and came into my life when I needed him the most to help shape me into more of a man. Tyler says he and mom, Micheleen Clancy, have had many #teamtad supporters asking where they could get their own official gear to support Tad. If you’d like to support, please visit YouCaring.com/TheodoreJamesHartrick. If you want to reach out to Tad’s family, email tylerhartrick@gmail.com.

Capt. Mike Parker, Dad and Granddad
Being a Dad means God giving me the opportunity to show unconditional love; doing whatever it takes to build character in your children; teaching them how to be loving, loyal, diligent, unselfish, thoughtful, creative, and forgiving. Also leading them to hopefully be followers of the Greatest Teacher ever, Jesus – who will give them the wisdom needed to lead a successful and satisfying life.

Before I became a Dad, to be honest, I had no clue. My Dad was gone basically from me and my brother’s lives when I was 10 years old. But God, over time, taught me much about what I needed to do. He says in Psalms 68:5, “that He will be a father to the fatherless.” So, I had to lean on Him and learn from Him the best I could. Another view that has changed has been from the standpoint of going from a “Dad” to a “Granddad” and learning to not be as “rattled” as easily as I once was! I have grown more in the words of my wonderful late mother “Michael, don’t sweat the small stuff. You’ll learn most stuff IS small stuff.”

The impact on my life, being a Dad, has been immense. The decisions you make in life become much more focused on how your decisions will affect your children and what’s good for them vs. what’s good for you – doing your best to make the right decisions so that in the “long run,” you know you did your best with particularly “big decisions.” Time will bare this out and, most of the time, the fruit of your decisions will be evident, and you will see that fruit in your children and grandchildren.

Scott Miller, Michaela and Nick’s Dad
I’ll never forget the feelings I had the moment my baby girl was born! Pure joy and happiness rushed through me as the miracle of life played out before my eyes. ‘She’s beautiful’ was all I could say. The mantle of fatherhood is a blessing and a responsibility that changes lives in an instant. Suddenly nothing matters more than protecting, loving and caring for the most precious gift that a man could have. When my son was born a few years later, those same feelings replayed again.

It means something different every day. A father’s view changes through the eyes of our children. What matters most becomes not what we want; it becomes what our children want, what our spouses want, and if we are well rooted in faith, what God wants.
Before becoming a dad, I was definitely a more self-centered person. Once blessed with children, something inside changed. Being a provider, a protector, and a teacher became the new norm.

The impact of being a dad is ever-changing. Choices we make each day have an effect on so many things and so many people. What I’m learning still to this day is how much influence we carry as fathers and that if we seek God’s will first, the rest will work out the right way.

Peter Wright, Jr., Brooks and Ann Harper’s Dad
Well, there’s plenty of words to decide from when describing what being a Dad means to me. I think if I had to choose one to sum it all up, it’d be love. I truly love my kids. No matter what kind of day you had at work, you know when you get home and they wrap their arms around you, all those big problems you had during the day seem a whole lot smaller. Of course, you’ll have the days with the kids that drive you crazy. But it’s actually those days that I think I love them the most. It’s those nights after you finally get them in bed, that you thank God for the opportunity to have kids, and most importantly, the patience to deal with them.

I’d say the biggest thing that’s changed since having kids would be, responsibility. I’ve always been a responsible person, but now you’re responsible for not just yourself, but your wife, kids, work, etc. Luckily I have an amazing wife, Rachel, that makes things pretty easy on me. I do work super hard because I want my kids to have the same opportunities that I had when I was growing up. I challenge them to be the best they can be academically, so they can learn what it takes to be successful and responsible themselves. I do think that most parents, including myself, stress too much about if they’re doing enough for their kids. As long as you show them you love them unconditionally, they’re going to turn out just fine.

I have wonderful grandparents and parents and so does my wife. I knew that if we were blessed enough to have kids, that we had a lot to live up to. Ann Harper and Brooks were born 07-14-11. I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle twin girls. I was now surrounded by girls at home; even the dog was a girl. Almost eight years have gone by since then and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s an amazing feeling to watch your kids grow, learn, fish, hunt, play sports, laugh, etc. And like every parent always tells you, it goes by so fast. I’m very fortunate to have grown up here in Destin and be surrounded by great family, friends, teachers and more. I’m so very thankful to God for blessing me with my beautiful daughters and how their joy of life has impacted my own.

Kelly Windes, Dad and Granddad
Being a dad is surely the best gift of all. The kids and grandkids are the gifts, but they give back. They make you more solid; they give you purpose and pride. As a parent, you think more of the “long game” – the future for them – and how to make it better.

Before I became a dad, I was in another life that was incomplete and empty. I was more interested in the here and now and not so much what would come later. Having kids later in life worked for me. I became a better man – not so self-serving.

Kids and grandkids have had a great impact on me. I’m sure I am healthier and happier because of them. My kids have done well and make me proud. My daughter told me not long ago that I was still working, had “hit my stride” at age 73, and that I was middle-aged. That has got to prove that kids keep you young. Life is good!