Since we celebrate Father’s Day in June, I thought I’d write my tale of three fathers for Your Child’s Journey and First Steps bulletins.
The Message Bible translates Paul’s comment in 1 Corinthians 4:15, “There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up.”
That describes well the three fathers I have in mind to tell about. These three fathers willingly took the time and effort to help their children grow up well.
The first of these three fathers is my own father. He is father to four girls and two boys. I am the first of his children.
My dad was not willing to just sire children, he wanted a close relationship with each child. He worked long hours as a retouch artist for ad agencies. He took the trouble to set up a ‘studio’ at home so he didn’t have to do his over-time work at the office. He wanted to have dinner with us and spend time with us before we went to bed, even if he had to work into the night to meet a deadline.
He was a hands on dad. He always hugged and kissed us when we woke up in the morning, when we left the house, when we came home, and before we went to bed. He played with us and held us on his lap and took us with him when he ran errands.
My all time favorite teenage memory is of my long conversations with dad. After dinner he went to his ‘studio’ to resume his work. Since his studio was in his bedroom, I loved to sit on his bed and talk to him. I would pour out my tales of woe or my far-fetched dreams. All the while he worked quietly. When I would finally run out of things to say, I would wonder if he had even heard me since he hadn’t said a word in a long time. Then after a pause, he would ask a pertinent question about what I had said or make a very appropriate comment. He was a good listener. He listened and he influenced me greatly by those talks while he worked.
I learned much from observing my dad. I learned what a loving, respectful man was like. This prepared me well to meet boys. I instinctively knew whether a boy was really interested in me and was good or whether he just wanted to see what he could get away with. I learned to be frugal and industrious. I learned to listen. And I learned how to serve out of a heart of love. All things my dad has done all his long life.
The second of the three fathers is my husband. He is father to two boys. My husband is not the he-man type. He didn’t teach our boys to hunt or fish, but he had plenty of lessons he could teach our sons. He was a great male role model. When they were young, the boys loved to copy the way he walked and the way he talked. When they were older they watched and learned how to be honorable, respectful, and faithful.
My husband is a great encourager. He looks for success, and even slight improvements merit encouragement: a smile and thumbs up, a pat on the back, or a positive word. The boys became observant and made my day with a compliment on a new hairstyle or on handwork I was doing, just like their dad.
No topic was off limits for discussion. As long as they asked questions respectfully, my husband would listen and affirm them when they reasoned well, give his opinion, and help them find good resources on the topic. Dinner was a time for lively, pleasant talk, not rebukes or discipline. Throughout his time with the boys he shared his faith in Jesus and how He changes our lives and our outlook.
Our sons are both able to help other people. Early on, Mike would present a problem to the boys and ask their opinion. He got a window into their hearts and minds. They often came up with solutions we would never have thought of. They still use the skills they learned from their dad in their work and personal relationships.
Our sons learned how to be men with their own mix of gifts, talents, and weaknesses. They learned how to respect and appeal to authority figures. And they learned how to treat the women in their lives.
The third father I want to talk about is our oldest son. He is father to a son and a daughter. Our son has been involved with his children even from pregnancy. He went with our daughter-in-law for her checkups and was so proud to show off the ultrasound pictures. They went to classes together in preparation for the delivery. They learned so much about observing each other, how to speak and be heard, and how to work as a team. He has always taken his turn at the physical care of the kids.
Our son is not threatened by the wisdom of his wife. They work well together to see that both their son and daughter are growing up well. They don’t argue in front of their children. They have learned to wait until the children are asleep and they quietly discuss their differences and agree on a plan of action. It is a good system and means the children don’t have the opportunity to play one parent against the other. They are a united team.
Our son takes the lead in discipline of the children. He deals with disobedience quickly and consistently. Because he does, the children know what to expect and he doesn’t have punishment explosions.
He works hard and provides well for his family. He also makes sure he has adequate time for his wife and children. They don’t just get the left-overs. Like his grandfather, he sometimes has to work late into the night to finish projects, but he makes sure he is home and has family time before his overtime. He has benefited by the heritage of his grandfather and his father. He is passing the baton to his son by his involved parenting.
I honor the men in my life who have been such good fathers. They didn’t always have it easy. The kids they raised were normal kids with difficulties they brought with them or caused. But because these men look to God for His wisdom, their families are blessed.
Take this opportunity to tell the men in your life how they have positively influenced you. Pray for them, they need God’s wisdom.