Hurt Road: A 7-Day Devotional By Third Day Guitarist Mark Lee

Day 6 of 7 • This day’s reading


Grumpy Dad Syndrome

There’s a phenomenon in our family called “grumpy dad syndrome,” or GDS for short. It’s when I focus so much on my role as a protective, providing father that I forget to be Daddy.

GDS reared its head in New York City a few years ago when we were trying to find somewhere to eat at 10:00 p.m. Our hotel was in a business district and everything shut down after dark. We walked and looked and asked and walked and looked and finally found a little Italian place. I was so relieved that we found it that I guess I just sort of clammed up when we sat down. After our food came and we ate, my wife told me she was going to take the kids back to the hotel so I could have some time to pull it back together. What?

GDS happened another time when I came home from a run of shows, and we decided to take the kids to a local steak place for a special dinner. I was aware of being tired from travel, but I felt like everything was fine. Except my daughter, Kitty, was excited that I was home and felt the need to climb on me in the booth. Later she told Mommy that I had been grumpy that night. 

As in everything else involving my children, my heart is in the right place. I want to be there for my kids. I want them to have great memories from their early years. And I want to set the template for how men are supposed to treat them.

But I’ve come to realize that the root of GDS is my desire to shelter my kids from every problem. I try to make their childhood be perfect, because mine was not. But I sometimes hold on so tightly to the happily ever after for my children that it becomes a death grip on the idea of me being the dad my kids need me to be. 

To think that I can shelter and protect my children from anything bad that might happen in this world is a flat-out lie. Instead, I need to give it over to God. I am here to take care of what I’ve been entrusted with. And that especially includes my kids. 


What lie is causing you to hold on too tightly to something or someone you love?