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The Father’s Mandate: Fathers You Are Needed!

27 Jun

Fathers you are neededThroughout The Father’s Mandate series we’ve discussed how fathers need to take responsibility as the leaders in their family. The roles that dads play are critical in raising children who are confident, independent, loving, kind and secure. If you haven’t  followed the series, then please do yourself (and your kids) a favour and follow the links below to find out more about the 6 things that dads must do:

  1. Create a family identity
  2. Love your wife
  3. Accept invitations into your child’s private world
  4. Support your child
  5. Encourage your child
  6. Build trust in God’s Word.

Today we’re concluding the series by reminding you fathers why your presence and interest in your children is so important.

Fathers:  You are Needed! 

Dr. David Blankenhorn, author of The Good Family Man, did a study of male prisoners and found that the one thing that many of them had in common was the absence of a father. When it came to Mother’s Day, most of the prisoners asked for a card to send to their moms. But none of them asked to send a card to their fathers when it came to Father’s Day. Dr. Blankenhorn concluded that not only do children need their fathers, but society needs fathers as well.  HE says, “Neighbourhoods without fathers are neighbourhoods without men able and willing to confront errant youth, chase threatening gangs, and reproach delinquent fathers…The absence of fathers deprives the community of those little platoons that informally but effectively control boys on the street” (Raising Faithful Kids in a Fast-Paced World, Dr. Paul Faulkner, pp. 118). 

It’s not rocket science. Fathers have a very significant impact on their children, especially their sons. One place this influence is clear is church attendance. If both mother and father go to church, 72 percent of the children will go when they’re grown. If only the father goes, that percentage doesn’t drop too much:  55 percent of the children will go to church when they’re grown. But if only the mother goes to church, only 15 percent of those children will go when they’re grown. So while the mother has a greater influence on children in some respects, church attendance is one area where the father has the big influence” (Faulkner pp. 123-124).  I think that many men just assume that their wives have more power and influence when it comes to spiritual things than they do. Too many men seem to think that the faithful spiritual example of their wives will make up for their failure to be a spiritual leader. They are wrong and they need to fix this immediately.

God teaches us the same thing in the Bible (Ephesians 6:4).  “Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done” (Psalm 78:3-4).  On this point one family noted, “The father must be the moral standard, the moral head of the home – not the mother, not school, not church, not grandparents”.  I fully agree!

Not only do children need their fathers, fathers need their children. 

Dr. David Blankenhorn, says, ‘Children endow a man’s life with a larger meaning. They confer a special blessing on his worldly endeavors, endeavors that might otherwise seem small and unworthy. Children make it possible for a man to believe that he has lived a good and purposeful life’” (Faulkner pp. 117-118).   

Judith Wallerstein has studied the effects of divorce on children and families. When she began her studies she thought that children were strong enough to adjust to their parent’s divorces. But she found that children have much tougher problems with adjustment than had first been recognized. She discovered something else too. Young, divorced fathers who were separated from their children also suffered developmentally. She found that some fathers never recover a sense of purpose or direction; they cannot grow up into fully mature men outside the structure of the family.

So what does a good father look like?

Here’s an example of what one young man had to say about his father, “My dad just has a way about him.  He can help us keep things straight. Dad had the uncanny way of keeping things in perspective”.  To illustrate what he meant, he described his very last high school football game. It was the last game, the last play, and the last quarter. There was time for only one last play, and he had to throw the ball. If the pass was good, he’d be a hero; if the pass was bad, he’d be a goat. He threw the pass and the pass was intercepted.  He was the goat and he came home late and hurting. His dad was waiting up for him. “Son I’m sorry the game was lost tonight, but let me ask you a question. You know Brice?  (his little nephew). If we could reverse the outcome of the game by cutting off just the very tip of one of Brice’s little bitty fingers, would you be willing to do it?” The son replied, “Oh, no, Dad!  I would never do that”. And then the dad said, “I didn’t think you would. So I guess winning the game wouldn’t have been worth even the tip of Brice’s little finger then, would it?” And the young man said that when his dad said that, he felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off his shoulders. This is the power of a father.

In conclusion

Dads, you hold a tremendous amount of power and influence when it comes to your children. You need to take this responsibility seriously and get involved with your children. If you know you haven’t been the best father, then we dare you to make the necessary changes before it’s too late! There are plenty of wonderful resources available to help you along your way. We also recommend parents to try a parenting course. There are many on offer – from birth to teens. You can find The Father’s Mandate in the Growing Kids God’s Way course, one of the many Growing Kids International curriculums.

Baby Guardian Vaccination Clinic offers parenting courses in the Midrand/Centurion area in Gauteng, South Africa.

The Father’s Mandate: Build Trust in God’s Word

25 Jun

Father's Mandate_Dad reads bibleIt’s the start of a new week, and I’m hoping that The Father’s Mandate series is the start of a whole new look at the incredible role that dads play in their families. We started off the series by talking about how fathers are responsible for creating a family identity and how important it is for them to teach their children values and morals. As we have mentioned before, this series is inspired by the Growing Kids God’s Way parenting course, a Growing Families International curriculum that teaches parents how to bring their children up with biblically based principles. Although this is essentially a Christian course, the principles we share are relevant for any faith. This brings us to the next role of fathers:

Role #6: Build Trust in God’s Word

As a father, you need to teach your children that God can be trusted. Your children need to hear stories about how God has taken care of you and how the teachings of the Bible have helped you; that they are beneficial and not a burden. You need to constantly be teaching them the wisdom of God’s Word and how the scriptures teach us to live good lives. Tell your children how you avoided temptation and trouble by listening to God’s Word. By applying scripture to real life situations, you can show your children that the Bible is still relevant today and that it really does have all the answers.

As you may well have concluded, this means that you too need to be knowledgeable about God’s Word. Take the time to read your Bible and teach your children to do the same.

The Father’s Mandate: Support & Encourage

20 Jun

the father's mandate support & encourageDads, we hope you are enjoying The Father’s Mandate series! Moms…we trust you are sharing this with your gents because this is the literally the difference between him being a “Dad” or “dud”. Today we’d like to cover 2 roles that are very closely linked…

Role #4: Support you Child

When we talk about supporting a child in their failure, we’re not implying that it’s okay for kids to adopt a casual attitude to violating values and morals. As much as we like to believe that our children are angels, we know they are not perfect. You should expect your children to behave, but you cannot expect them not to fail. Failure is part of life; it is essential for learning and growth. We didn’t learn not to eat soap because our mothers told us not to. We learnt because we were curious one day and took a bite, or said a bad word and mom made us take a bite. We failed. We learnt. We grew. Fathers in particular play a critical role in using a child’s failure to teach them important lessons. Fathers can use these moments to share how they have failed and teach their children the lessons they learned in the process. Children need to know that failure happens, but that it does not define them as a failure.

Role #5: Encourage your Child

As much as a child needs support, they also need encouragement. They need to know that someone is thinking of them, backing them and rooting for them to succeed. Dads can do this in very practical ways like giving a high-five or saying something good about their child. A thoughtful note is even better. Your child will treasure it and look back on it when times get tough. Leave something physical for them so that they can reflect on it and remember your example even when you are gone.

Kids expect their mom to support and encourage them, but they THRIVE when dad does it.

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Father’s Mandate: Accept Invitations into Your Child’s Private World

18 Jun

father plays with childrenWe’re on to part 3 of The Father’s Mandate series; encouraging dads to live above society’s fatherhood-norms and be the best fathers possible. If there’s one main theme that is coming through this series, it’s the amount of time fathers spend (or don’t spend) with their family. Keep reading to see what hurried dads are missing out on.

Role #3: Accept Invitations into Your Child’s Private World

Have you ever had that moment where your child comes running to show you something super exciting and your first reaction is to yell at them about bringing mud into the house? Or when they are stammering on about something and you impatiently tell them to be quiet because you’re trying to listen to the radio or TV? You may have just missed a personal invitation into your child’s private world.

Children open windows to their heart at the most unexpected times. These are moments when your child invites you in to share advice, answer questions and clear up false impressions. It is in these moments that you will do more than teach your child to conform to expected behaviour; you will be able to train your child’s heart to love you, love others and love God. You cannot force these windows open. And when you react with impatience and intolerance, you may be shutting that window forever. If you don’t listen when your child opens up, they may not trust you enough to invite you in again. Imagine how much harder it will then be to understand your child when they are a teenager. Hurried fathers miss these opportunities, but fathers that make time for their children will be there to see these windows open.

Dads who are preoccupied with work, themselves and their problems end up distancing themselves from their children. Children cannot bond with a moving target. Successful fathers are not the ones with flexible time – they are the ones who use whatever recreational time they have to spend doing what their children or wife would like to do. Too many dads think that time with their children will be unpleasant or draining. They would prefer to spend time doing their own thing. What they don’t realise is that a child’s attention span is pretty short; sometimes you’re lucky if there is actually decent time for play. Jump at the invitation to be with your child, because in a few minutes they will want to do something else. Your child needs you to be present and involved. Try it and you will see those little windows open to their soul!

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thoughtful Thursday: Dad or Dud?

14 Jun

dad or dudI wanted this week’s Thoughtful Thursday to be really special for our dads. But my hunt for a great “dad” quote did anything but inspire. I ended up finding a bunch of quotes about “duds” –  the failure, disappointment and non-existence of dads.  There is clearly a crisis when it comes to the relationship between children and their fathers.

There are so many good dads out there; I know lots of them! But their good examples seem to be washed out by all the duds. Abusive and absent fathers are too easily regarded as the norm. Fathers are almost expected to fail. How, then, are they supposed to be good fathers when society doesn’t have high expectations for them to live up to? Fathers need to know how important they are so that they can take their role as leader of their home more seriously; and we need to give them the respect they need to do that. Dads need encouragement. They need to know that they are wanted and that their children depend on them. Dads need to know that their actions may decide the fate of their family.

There is hope. Fathers around the world are stepping up and taking their role more seriously. They’re not bullying their family or letting their family walk all over them. Instead, they are offering their family love, guidance and encouragement. They are taking authority and responsibility for their family. And in turn, they are respected, loved and trusted. They deserve to be called “Dad”.

I hope your child will say this:

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”

 – Jim Valvano (American college basketball coach)

The Father’s Mandate: Love Your Wife

13 Jun

Welcome to the second part of The Father’s Mandate series. This fantastic series not only honours fathers, but challenges them to a higher standard of excellence as head of their home. Last time we talked about a father’s responsibility in creating a family identity. Today we focus on another crucial role that a father plays in his family:

Role #2: Love Your Wife!

the father's mandate - husband love your wifeWhen we think about a man’s responsibility as a father, we tend to forget how his relationship with his wife affects his relationship with his children. No matter how involved a father is with his children, it will count for almost nothing if he doesn’t show love and affection to their mother. If a father isn’t spending quality time with his wife, speaks harshly to her or isn’t patient with her, his children will find it difficult to trust him and they will begin to develop habits of an unhealthy family model. I realise this example may be limited for more complex family units, but the point remains the same: Fathers need to love their children’s mother!

“Fathers are crucial in making men of their sons and women of their daughters. Contrary to the popular image, it is not the aggressive, macho man but the competent, caring, loving father who does this best.” – Faulkner

A father needs to represent the kind of man that he wants his son to be. Boys need their fathers to teach them how to conduct themselves as men; how to be responsible; and how to treat women. When a boy grows out of childhood, he inevitably lets go of his attachment to his mother and looks to his father for instruction and affirmation. If his father isn’t there, he will look for answers elsewhere and risk becoming a distorted version of what masculinity should be.

A father needs to represent the kind of man that he wants his daughters to marry. By being a good role model, his daughter can see how a man should look, act and talk. A father who is loving, caring and affectionate towards his wife shows his daughter how she should one day be treated by her husband; she should not want to settle for anything less. On the other hand, if a daughter has limited interaction with her father, or her father is unkind to her mother, she will struggle to relate to men and may end up in a cycle of abusive relationships.

So dads, if you want your children to grow up in healthy relationships and receive the love that they deserve, you need to model that picture for them. Surprise your wife with a bunch of flowers, tell her “I love you” every day, hug her, kiss her and dance with her. Make sure your children see your affection for her and make sure that, one day, they settle for nothing less!

What do you think dads? Challenge accepted?

 

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Father’s Mandate: Family Identity

11 Jun

happy family on carpetThere is no doubt about the importance of fathers. When a father is actively involved with his children, he positively influences every area of their lives. Children need their dads! In this series, we’ll be sharing a little of The Father’s Mandate from the Growing Kids God’s Way course (a Growing Families International curriculum) and highlighting some of the essential roles that dads play in the family unit.

Role #1: Family Identity

Family ties should not be optional. In an ideal world, every child would know that they were put into their family for a purpose; that they have a role to play; that they are loved and cherished; and that their family is committed to them. Ever family would have a standard of values and morals to live up to; and every member of that family would hold each other mutually accountable. A family would be a team. Every team needs a leader; and that leader would be Dad.

Did you know that “husband” literally means “house-holder”? It’s not surprising then that a father holds so much responsibility when it comes to being the family leader. This can’t be taken lightly. If a father is absent or too busy to focus attention on his family, outside influences will shape the children’s idea of what a family looks like. As entertaining and light-hearted as they may be, popular TV shows like The Simpsons or Modern Family often shows dads to be silly, irresponsible and unable to cope with the children on their own. They may be likeable, but they don’t command respect and their children don’t trust them.

To quote Gary Ezzo, “the quantity and quality of trust children have in us, as fathers, is a legitimate benchmark of our relationship with them. Do your children trust you to provide them simply with sustenance, facts, and judgments, or do they trust you as a person?” (pg. 71, Growing Kids God’s Way).

 Studies have found that children who feel connected to their parents and siblings have fewer problems with temptation and peer pressure. When dads are actively involved, their children are more confident. They have a higher self-esteem, are more sociable, compassionate and empathetic. They reach independence easier and deal with frustration better. Boys are less aggressive and adolescent girls are less likely to engage in sexual activity.

So how does a dad actually build a family identity? Fathers need to verbalise their excitement and pleasure with their family.  Saying things like, “This is a great family” or “I am so thankful that God put us all together” and “You kids have such a great mom” have a remarkable impact on a child’s perception. Dads need to give their children a clear picture of the purpose of their family. Make sure your children understand the values and morals that they are expected to live up to. Let them know exactly what roles they play in the family. When Dad is excited and encouraged about his family, the children tend to feel the same way. But when Dad is absent or silent, they will inevitably ask the question, “Does he really care about us?”

Who is shaping your family’s identity?

 

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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