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My kids reinvented my whole world

What I’ve learned from my kids

Q: What is one thing your children have taught you?

That’s a good question. I’m going to stretch it out, though. I’m not paid by the word, but I am a writer and I do like using as many words as I possibly can.

As a lot of people do, I split my life into two time periods: BK (before kids) and AT (after them). I wasn’t this same person before July of 2010, when my daughter was born. I was a different guy. We look sort of similar. He was skinnier and had a different haircut, but was a lot dumber, too.

And he could go to Taco Bell whenever he wanted to, which must have been cool.

I looked into my daughter’s eyes when she was first born and they handed to me to carry over to my wife, sweetest Annette. And I thought it strange that I’d never met this person before that moment, but that she would become the most important person in the world, to me.

So the quick answer is that my children have taught me compassion. I am better able to care for other people’s needs because of them. I love people more, because of those two.

But I am a writer, and I don’t want to give you just the quick answer. I’ve got more words to share with you.

I was terrified to take my eyes off our daughter for even a second, when she was first born. Even to this day, it’s difficult to be separate from them without worrying about them. Instinct tells me that I need to protect them, every moment, from a hostile world. And that’s been difficult because I’m not all that strong or powerful, so I can barely protect myself. And then I’m married, so I ought to be protecting my wife, too. Add on two children who are barely able to comb their own hair without me nagging them, and it’s a lot of pressure.

But it’s a good pressure. My kids have taught me responsibility, and how to be clutch in a high-pressure situation. I’m basically the Steph Curry of being a dad, just draining three-pointers when we’re down by two.

You’ve probably seen the videos on YouTube of dads making fantastic catches of their children, or that one dad who outran a toy car that’s barreling down a hill, traveling toward a kid that I presume is his own offspring. I don’t know how he does it, but I kind of do.

My three-year-old son likes jumping off stuff. It’s his one hobby. And I’ve pulled him off enough ledges by now to say, with some degree of confidence that I have developed something like Spider-Man’s spider sense for danger. I say, no, and pull him off the top of the refrigerator, or the ladder he has somehow dragged into the house from the garage, or the top of his sister’s dresser, or the basketball hoop in the driveway. The kid has some serious climbing skills, and I’m kind of jealous of his initiative.

My kids have taught me to watch out for the worst, but expect the best outcomes. Because that’s what they are: the best things to ever happen to me. I don’t remember life without them. That was a different guy, who knew nothing. My kids reinvented my whole world. They haven’t taught me just one thing. They’ve taught me everything I know, right now.

Thanks, kids. I’ll try to teach you some stuff, too.

If you have a question you’d like to Ask A Dad, send an e-mail to, or leave a comment at the Prairie Parent Facebook page,

Written by Kelly Hagen

Kelly Hagen

Kelly is the Director of Communications at North Dakota United. He has been with NDU since merger in 2013, and worked previously with the North Dakota Public Employees Association since 2011. Kelly is in charge of coordinating and distributing print and electronic communications between members and with the public, is the editor for United Voices magazine, administrates the website and social media properties, and works directly with local leaders to build their own communications infrastructure. Kelly is originally from Wilton, ND. He received an Associate of Arts degree in journalism from Bismarck State College and a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communication from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Prior to his employment with NDU, he worked for the N.D. Department of Health, the Fargo Forum and the Bismarck Tribune. He lives in Bismarck with his wife, Annette, and their two children.

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