Over the past couple weeks, I have enjoyed some vacation with my family. During this time I have been reflecting on my role as father to my children. Of course, yesterday was Father’s Day. Here are four opportunities that I have identified for myself as a father.
1. Share Wisdom
Through the years I have accumulated some wisdom about living life. The challenge comes in being able to communicate this wisdom to my children. This is especially true as they move into the teenage years and may not want to listen as closely. It is my job to come up with creative ways to communicate the wisdom I have gained. If I can do this in an entertaining way, my children will be much more likely to remember the lesson. A story that my children can relate to helps them to accept my input.
I am still working on ways to be creative with sharing wisdom, but our family often laughs together. I find that these moments of laughter foster opportunities to open up discussion. It is important that i seize upon these chances to share wisdom about life. After laughing with the children, their attitude is more receptive to deeper conversations.
My wife and I read a book some years ago that used the phrase, “inspire, don’t require.” It seemed to resonate with us at the time. It has been a motivating sentiment for us as our children grow up. Of course, at younger ages it is imperative that children learn obedience. As the children age and began to take more ownership of their own lives it becomes critical to inspire them. It is much easier said than done. Inspiring my children means that I have to know and understand their heart. I must see the world through their eyes so that I can identify their motivations.
I don’t mind admitting that inspiring my children is difficult for me. This is especially true for the children who are not like me. It takes commitment to actively engage. It requires me to lay aside my own selfishness and open myself to my children’s interests. This is not always a fun task but an absolute necessity if I want to be a loving and caring father.
3. Be An Example
Perhaps one of the greatest responsibilities I have as a father is to be an example of who they can become. There are many studies that show the effects that a father can have on his children. (Google “impact of fathers on children’s lives”) Treating others with respect is an important attitude to model. Helping them learn basic life skills will set them on the trajectory for success.
One area where some men seem to struggle is admitting weakness and/or saying I’m sorry. This leaves me with a great opportunity to be a father who models something different to my children. It is important to note that healthy boundaries are important. Opening up to my children on an age-appropriate level fosters transparency. Admitting that I have done something wrong allows my children to see me as human. Maintaining an air of infallibility builds up walls. Apologizing when I have hurt another person breaks down these barriers.
4. Speak Well of My Children
It hurts my heart when I hear others speak ill of their children. I think it may reveal something that is out of order with our society’s priorities. Have children ceased being a blessing? Have we relegated children to the liability side of the balance sheet of life? My contention is that they are an asset and our future! Why not speak of them in such a way?
I want to uplift and empower my children with my words. With my speech I have the opportunity to lift up or tear down. I am not implying that a father can never share his struggles about his children. I need to have other fathers I can trust in my circle of friends that can help me walk through difficult times. Yet, my life should be characterized by speaking well of my children.
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The opportunity to be a father is a privilege in and of itself. I am thankful for each of my children. Being a father also carries with it a tremendous responsibility. I am aware of this responsibility each day. It drives me to live a life that will be a blessing to my children now and into the future.
Question: How about you? What have you learned as a father that you can share with me? How has your father impacted you in ways that shape who you are today?
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