“It’s time for us men to grow up and take responsibility for our own families. There is absolutely no valid excuse to do otherwise.”
I once read a survey where children were asked what they thought was the most important academic subject. It turned out that it was whatever subject that their father helped them with in their homework. The reason given was that children assume, since Dad is busy, if he is going to take time out of his schedule to help with one subject; THAT must be the most important one.
What this indicates to me is the power of a father’s influence. Most of us men work jobs. We are busy. However, we can make a tremendous impact on our children if we are strategic in passing on what is most important.
What’s a dad to do?
There are two duties that the Bible seems to lay near exclusively at the feet of fathers.
1) Training and instruction of children (Proverbs 4:1).
2) Discipline (Deuteronomy 8:5, Proverbs 13:1, 24, 15:5, Ephesians 6:4, Hebrews 12).
For about six years, I served as a volunteer chaplain for a county juvenile center in Michigan. Of the several hundred incarcerated young men that I have interviewed, only one or two said that they had a good relationship with their father. The overwhelming majority had NO connection with, nor had even met, their biological fathers. From what I’ve observed, the overwhelming vast majority of young men who have positive input from their fathers simply don’t end up getting arrested and being a menace to society.
The fault of our nation’s moral decay can be placed, to a great extent, at the feet of fathers who have not lovingly and mercifully led their children in the ways of the Lord.
A father’s responsibility
In my home, I take initiative to make sure that I am leading family worship on a daily basis, and that I am staying abreast of my children’s spiritual, academic, and emotional progress. I am making sure that I am having “conversations that count,” with each of them, drawing them out and probing them with age-appropriate questions to see if they have assimilated what they have been taught and are developing Biblically-informed convictions from the information they have received.
I seek to understand my children’s personalities, natural skills, learning styles, and spiritual condition so that I can lead them in emotionally, spiritually and academically customized training and discipleship.
Jesus taught us that when a student is fully trained, he will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). Jesus did not merely give His disciples instruction, He showed them how to live, by His own daily example. That is a pattern for us as fathers.
If this sounds like it might take a lot of time and effort...it does. That’s the point! Deuteronomy 6 is a 24/7 year-round endeavor. It’s SUPPOSED to take a lot of time. Where do you find the time? Cut out all of the worthless stuff you are doing that doesn’t include your wife and children. If you have hobbies, find a way to include your children in your own interests, but don’t shut them out. They need you.
encounter on an airplane
On a recent road trip I was seated next to a man who makes a living in secular higher education. I asked him about his family and he told me that he had a twelve-year-old daughter. “That sounds like quite a transitional age,” I mused. “I’ve noticed that a lot of fathers kind of lose connection with their daughters at that age as they are becoming more independent and involved in activities with peers. In what ways are you being intentional about staying connected with your daughter?”
The silence was awkward. After a moment or two he stammered, “Well, it’s hard...I mean, I work a lot of hours and it just doesn’t seem like there is much time left for anything else.” He quickly turned and gazed out the window.
I tried to reconnect with him before he shut me out. “The company I work for recently published a book on father/daughter relationships. The author of that book, who is a father of three daughters, has suggested that one way he has been able to stay connected is by having an occasional date/lunch with his daughter. It seems to me that it doesn’t take too much effort to go to a burger joint and chat for a half an hour a couple of times a month. If your daughter wants to talk, she knows she can. If she wants to just be quiet that’s okay too. Think of some questions that you could ask to try to draw her out. Ask her how things are going at school, what’s going on with her friends, etc. Just let her know that you are there for her and if she needs you, you are available.”
We were interrupted by an announcement by the pilot and it was five minutes before he said anything else. “You know,” he finally offered, “you’ve really got me thinking. I’m going to schedule my first date/lunch with my daughter as soon as I get home from this trip.”
The eternal perspective
While I am thankful that he is finally thinking just a bit about his relationship with his daughter, I am amazed at how totally ignorant fathers tend to be. I mean, how in the world can you have a twelve-year-old daughter and not be thinking seriously about how important your guidance and direction are to her life? The fact is, most of us were never adequately mentored in how to be good dads. We are just figuring it out as we go. Thankfully, we have God’s word to give us guidance.
Far more than just a mere chit-chat over a burger and fries, we need to be looking for every opportunity to strategically and systematically equip our children to think and live Biblically. This means that you as the father must be engaged, involved and leading the way. Your wife isn’t supposed to raise and train your children...you are. She is your helpmeet, not the other way around.
When I stand before God, He will hold ME accountable for the spiritual training of my children. I can’t hide behind my wife and say, as Adam tried, “This woman You gave me...SHE didn’t know what she was doing!” No, I am responsible. The buck stops with me. I am thankful that my wife is a wonderful helpmeet and that she implements well the spiritual blueprints that I am providing for our family, but her role is to come alongside and support the vision that I have received from the Lord through His Word. It’s time for us men to grow up and take responsibility for our own families. There is absolutely no valid excuse to do otherwise.
Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker. He and his wife, Brook, are homeschooling their nine children in SW Michigan.
His books include: Full-Time Parenting: A Guide to Family-Based Discipleship and Pitchin’ A Fit! Overcoming Angry & Stressed-Out Parenting. He is the Director of Family Renewal, LLC.
Visit his website here.