Some tips for surviving — even thriving — as a father
By Clay Perkins
Saturday, June 16, 2018
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” — Ephesians 6:4 (The Bible, New International Version)
When I got home, there on the door was a picture of a baby. That was my wife’s way of telling me, you are going to be a father, again. By the time I got in the house I was all smiles. I love being a dad. But truth be known, being a father is no place for wimps. Without a doubt the challenges and chaos of raising children can overwhelm the most amazing adults among us.
Ah, memories. As I look back now, I laugh, but at the time having a child failing PE (physical education) was no laughing matter. PE class in middle school was a simple class. You put on gym clothes and you exercise for that class period. I was baffled. How could my child be failing? As I started the parenting conversation, my child could think of no reason why he should be failing this class. I learned that my child told the gym teacher he was not going to put on gym clothes. The teacher responded with something that sounded like “Well, I am not going to force you” to my child. So, in this child’s underdeveloped skull full of mush, that meant he could do nothing during the class and still pass. We had a significant conversation improving critical thinking skills. Indeed, you have the freedom of choice, but all choices have consequences.
So now that I am Poppy to four granddaughters, I offer these tips to survive and possibly even thrive at being a father. The last thing you want to do is embitter your child, for they will become discouraged (Colossians 3:21).
Be careful with your promises and the word “yes.” If you say something, you have to keep your word. We all want to make those around us happy, but words matter. Especially your words as a dad. Keep your promises. And since you are going to keep them, think before you speak.
Now this will sound counterintuitive, but do not always rescue your children. Perhaps one of the most important lessons your children can learn is how to deal with failure and frustration. If you always rescue them when life is unfair, are you doing them a favor? If you always take their side against the system, are you really allowing them to develop appropriately?
Learn to schedule. When my children were young, we set aside at least one weekend a month for family time. We went camping, hiking, swimming, bike riding, … whatever. There were no chores that weekend. There was fun. To this day, my children still love to hang out with their parents.
Make sure your children and you value truth. Are you a safe place where they can speak truth? Can they tell you anything? Do they understand that if there is no truth between a parent and a child, then you have nothing?
Do they know you love them? Unconditionally? And that no matter what they do, what they say, what they choose in life, you, their dad, will be there with love? Display that you love them by your behavior each and every day. And make sure that you not only demonstrate love with your actions, but you speak it. Tell them you love them. Often.
There is so much more that could be said. But relax. Enjoy being a dad. Some days you will do it right. Other days, you will be glad the day is over. But you will never regret being the best father you can be to your children.
Dr. Clay Perkins is an adjunct professor at Mid-Atlantic Christian University. The opinions expressed in this column belong to the author and may not be those of MACU.