This is the second of three blogs on the “Power of Parenting.” The previous blog was about the different approaches to parenting. I think its fine that there are a lot of ways to parent, some good, some not so good, but I think if we are purposeful in what we do we will figure it out. I highly recommend the best parenting manual I know about. “The Bible.” No greater insight on parenting or anything else in life for that matter.
In our society we are missing one of the strongest components of effective parenting. Fathers. Thank God that there are still a lot of great dads out there, but as a result of high levels of divorce, and pre-marital pregnancy, and just, purely irresponsible men we have an entire generation that is suffering the lack of true fathering in their life. So This blog is not intended to be a big beat down on dads, but an encouragement on how to be an effective father to your children.
The fathering component:
Ephesians 6:3 (MSG)…Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.
Let me start by saying, for far too long in our society in many areas we have taken the easy way, or quick way out. We have taken short cuts in our finances and careers, we have hurried through our relationships ending up with mere acquaintances and not deep strong friendships. We have also taken the quick and easy way out in dealing with our children. Dads we have the worst time with this. Here is some advice from the Bible on how to parent effectively. There are several things a father should do, and several he should not. First, is to realize its not up to mom to do all the leading and connecting with the kids. We have often deferred this to our wives. I think its interesting, that in a lot of places in the bible it refers to the moms role in a kids life but here in this scripture Paul talks about what a good marriage looks like, what Great kids look like and then talks about great parenting and never mentions mom, just refers to Dad. As if to imply to all the dads out there, to quit shoving the responsibility off on mom to be the all in all in this parenting dynamic. He gave specific instructions to dads. He said. Don’t exasperate your kids, but take them by the hand and lead them. Here is what that means.
Don’t Exasperate: to make angry, worsen, infuriate, frustrate, wind up, drive mad.
As men we have the ability to stir up anger in our kids. This is not to say be easy or passive. It means don’t bring gas to the fire. God made us to be answers to the questions our kids have. He has given us the responsibility to lead them to the solutions to their problems. We are not supposed to enflame the situation, rather to calm the situation and lead them to right decisions, and choices. Yes this takes more time and effort, but the results are incredible.
How a dad should relate to their kids.
Be Powerful: Influential, strong, effective, persuasive, commanding, authoritative.
Be a man. A person who cares, who carries himself as a person whose life counts. Who lives with meaning, and purpose. Not a push over or a bully. Find that place of strength and gentleness. Relate to them from there.
Be Personal: connected, not distant, not uninvolved.
This is where so many men miss it with their kids. Even the dads who are in the home and a part of the lives of their children. At times we as men just hold others at arms length. Its very important your kids know you are right there with them. You are not unapproachable, your are personal, and interested in their lives. I know its funny on the sitcoms for the dad to be macho and uninterested in the wife and kids, and is merely tolerating them day after day. In real life though, its not funny at all, and it clearly makes a negative mark on the children who lovingly long for the approval and attention of dad, but never seem to get it.
Be Present: Be in the moment: Come on dads, don’t watch your kids grow up and then say, “what happened to the time?” But you can remember every movie, or tv show or great sporting event that happened over that same period of time. Your children are the greatest blessing and responsibility, make sure you stay in the moment and don’t miss it. You can not get it back. No matter how bad you want to, you can’t get it back.
Be Paternal: fatherly, caring, kind, affectionate, warm. This is basically the spirit, or attitude of a father. This is the way God relates to us. Its ok men, to be affectionate and warm. Its not weak to be kind. It is not awkward to tell your kids you love them. The lack of fatherly affection can truly confuse and hurt a child. Sometimes its not WHAT you say. Sometimes it is what you DON”T say.
Don’t worry about being perfect: be yourself, let your kids see who you are. Be authentic with your kids. You can be there hero and not be perfect. Imperfect is real, and perfect is pretentious. Your kids don’t need you going through life pretending. They need you in the real world, dealing with real problems and coming up with real solutions.
Be Predictable: consistent, not all over the place, counted on. The greatest thing you could do for your kids is to be consistent. Let your kids know they can count on you. Not up one day and down the next, but steady, strong, there. This creates such stability in them. It gives them a place they can always run to.
Be Presentable: Fit to appear in public, fit to be displayed. Your kids want to be proud of you, give them reason to. You don’t need to try to relate to your kids friends on their level, but simply relate to them. Don’t purposefully embarrass your kids, it may seem funny at the time, but you lose such credibility in their eyes when you do that. Remember what it was like to be a child or a teenager.
Be Proud: Not ungodly pride or arrogance, but proud to be dad. You should be proud to be the parent of your children. Even when they aren’t perfect you are still proud to be their parent. Let them know you’re proud of them. My dad would always tell me he was proud of me. Even when there wasn’t much to be proud of. That made me want to be better, and do better.
Be Prolific: fruitful, your life counts, means something, be good at something. Let your kids take pleasure in what you do, or what you are capable of.
Men, lets be men again. Lets get involved, stay connected, be to our children what God is to us. DAD. Romans 8:15, we have not been given the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby we cry abba (Daddy) Father.
Make it count!