Over the years as a father I have made lots and lots of mistakes. Thankfully, my wife and my children have been gracious towards me in understanding that I am only human and they have offered forgiveness time and time again. That’s not to say that they haven’t pointed out to me my failings— kids, especially, have a way of letting you know when you have made a mistake. There have been many lessons learned along the way and so this morning, being Father’s Day, I thought that I might share with you some of these. I don’t profess in any way to be an expert, nor do I think that I have got this ’Dad’ thing nailed down. There are probably numerous things that other Dads (including those who have had more experience) could add to this list.
I also need to add that there are a number of women who are raising children on their own today – these words are not meant to alienate you or disparage the vital role of a single Mother — it’s a really tough gig and I have so much admiration for those Mum’s who sacrifice so much in order to raise their children in a responsible and godly way. I benefited from such a beautiful Mum.
Dad’s, you have such a hugely important role to play in your family. There is so much evidence today that points to the fact that children who come from homes where a father has not been present (physically or emotionally) are at significantly greater risk of ’going off the rails’ (e.g. involved in substance abuse; crime and violence; family breakdowns; struggling with sexual identity; not doing well at school; and high unemployment rates – just to name a few).
So, let me share with you some things I have learned along the way…
1. Your family needs to know that you love them – that means not only telling them by your words, but also by your actions. Your wives and your children need to feel as though they are important to you. Take time to listen, to engage, to show affection, and to instil in them a self worth that comes from God.
2. Your family needs to hear you say ‘I’m sorry, will you please forgive me’ when you hurt them in some way. Guys, the strength of a man is not revealed in how tough you are, but how strong in character you are. Along with this, we also need to be willing to show grace and forgiveness to others – especially our families.
3. Your family needs to see you accept responsibility for your actions – this follows on from the previous point but also recognizes the fact that when we make mistakes or fail at something, we don’t try to blame someone else. We admit when we’re wrong; seek to correct the error; and then push on and not wallow in self-pity.
4. Your family needs to see you act with integrity – we need to back up our words with our actions.
5. Your family needs to see you living out your faith with passion and authenticity – James 1:27 reminds us that we are not just to be ‘hearers of the Word but doers also’! Our children learn most from seeing our Christian faith modelled by us. We are to lead by example.
Well, as I said, these are just a few important things I have learned. Perhaps you might share some of your helpful hints with others.