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I Don’t Know How To Be A Dad

by Brad Julian

“How Did I Get This Job?”

I don’t know how to be a dad, but I got the job anyway! I’m sure all parents feel like me, either some or most of the time. No matter how many books are written on parenting, it’s just not something you can learn from reading.

It All Started Around 6 Years Ago.

That’s when my son came to live with me full time. His mother was going through a rough time trying to deal with a divorce, and she ended up falling into drug addiction. When I found out, I went to pick my son up and told her she could have him back when she got some help and sobered up.

A few months later I finally admitted the truth to myself, he was going to be with me for good. Six years later and I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing. I was used to just having him every other weekend, and most parents that are on this type of schedule with their kids can’t fully grasp the difference. 


Suddenly I was thrown into full-time parenting, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I don’t know how to be a dad! I thought I did, but it was easy when I just got him two days every other weekend. Making sure he was well fed all the time, getting him to school, and making sure he showered and brushed his teeth daily were never things I had to think about before. Then there was dealing with his bad moods, disciplining him, staying on him about cleaning up after himself, etc. In the past, I just got to hang out with him and have fun every other weekend. Then, out of nowhere, things got serious. 

At the time I was the Dean for a ministry program that helps addicts, and my job was to disciple men for Jesus through discipline I would come up with depending on what rules they broke. I taught them how to live as Christian by explaining to them when they did something wrong, why it was wrong, and why God asks us to do things a different way. I would teach classes on different character qualities like love, respecting authorities, anger, controlling emotions, and other things like that. 

The Most Important Lesson

More than anything, I would show them how to live as a Christian through my example and let them see how I lived my life every day, especially since they knew I came from the same type of life they were coming out of. I was once an addict myself. After battling with addiction for many years, it was finally Jesus that set me free and changed me from the inside out, and my students could relate to that and see with their own eyes that Jesus could change them as well.

When my son came to live with me I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what a dad was supposed to do, and I kept thinking I was going to mess up somehow and destroy his life. Being scared and lost,  I decided I would raise him the same way I would disciple my students. Surely raising a child couldn’t be much different than raising up disciples for Christ.  

Living In God’s Grace

I’ve made a lot of mistakes and had to learn some things the hard way, but everyone that has been around my son since he came to live with me says he is so much more well-behaved and happier now. 

Of course, I’m going to mess up at times. I know I will let him get away with things I shouldn’t or discipline him too harshly at times. It’s easy to miss opportunities to build him up or help him learn something he needs. The best thing I can do is to teach him to love the Lord. He needs to know to learn from my mistakes so he can be a good example! My willingness to admit to him and myself that I’m not perfect will play an important part. Most importantly, I just need to be there for him as Dad. I don’t know what I’m doing as a dad, but he doesn’t know that!

“Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?”

Hebrews 12:9

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Brad comes from a past filled with violence and drugs but made his way out to become a pastor. He’s devoted his life over the last 10 years to serving Christ and helping men and women come out of similar lifestyles. They usually end up finding a relationship with Jesus as well. As a single full-time dad, he spends most of his time working and hanging out with his son playing video games. He also enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and music.

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  • tina
    Posted at 01:42h, 01 July Reply

    your story is fantastic – I love it! you truly are showing your son, and many other people how living a Christian life is! You know how to be a father because you are listening to the Greatest Father of them All GOD! I always have found it so heart wrenching that courts divvy up time to just weekends for fathers – that doesnt allow the father(or non custodial parent) to really parent, have a say in the childs life. I raised my daughter from the age of 1 (we arent finished yet and she is a grown woman) alone – at first her father saw her every other weekend – that didnt last. during her childhood I always let him see her daughter whenever possible – dont have to stick to the strict rules of weekends only

    • CCM Team
      Posted at 05:12h, 01 July Reply

      It’s definitely a lot to juggle, but like you said, following the Father is the only way to be confident in what you’re doing as a parent!

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