Listen my son to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.
Forty-five years ago I became a father for the first time. At age 22 I was as green and wet behind the ears as you can get when it came to being a father. I didn’t know much but I was foolish enough to believe I could pretty much figure it out on my own. I wish I had known what I know now, and really sought the wisdom and counsel of my Dad and other godly men more often. After all, my Da and Mom raised six kids. I think they might have known a thing or two about parenting.
But the sad truth is that I almost never went to my Dad and asked his advise, and that was a mistake. So, now as a grandfather, I am going to take it upon myself to say what my father probably wishes he could have said. So, grandfathers, maybe you can find a way to share this post with your sons or sons-in-law and invite their feedback. If you’re a young dad, I hope you put these ten things into practice for your sake and your family’s sake.
So, here goes…
TEN THINGS ONE GRAND-DAD WISHES EVERY DAD KNEW (and put into practice):
- You matter a lot in your child’s life. Don’t check out. Being at home is not the same as being engaged. Your kids need you to connect with them and be part of their world.
- Figure out what’s really important—and then make it so. Check your heart; what are your idols? If you want to truly love your children (and wife), make sure you love God/Christ above all. Don’t settle for being nothing more than a fan of Jesus. Be a real follower!
- Don’t do the parenting thing on your own. Parenting is not supposed to be one-generational. Your parents may not be perfect, but they do have something to contribute. Build a partnership and ask for their advice—often. And remember to seek out the wisdom of other godly fathers. While I don’t subscribe to all the underlying implications sometimes associated with the statement, “It’s takes a village to raise children,” I do believe that God intended that kids are most effectively raised by more than the nuclear family. It’s a multi-generational process.
- Every child needs a father’s blessing. Closely guard what comes out of your mouth. Cultivate an environment of blessing, not cursing, and make sure you speak blessing often. Download my Blessing Kit to learn how to build a tradition of spoken blessing in your home. Take the bull by the horns, be a man, and lead the way!
- Make sure you are building a legacy worth outliving you. Don’t allow yourself to become a barn builder consumed with bigger and more stuff. Your career success and a lavish lifestyle are not what really matter to your kids…or your wife. If you don’t believe me, sit down and ask them.
- Take tough-love discipline seriously. Tough discipline is not abuse, but make sure it’s not! Discipline is a true act of love, and it can be hard. The Bible says that even God disciplines those He loves. It also says that a man who “spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (Prov. 13:24). “Discipline your son,” Proverbs 19:18 says, “for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.”
- You are not your kids’ BFF. You are their parent, so act like one. This means sometimes you have to step up to the plate and do some hard things, like setting reasonable boundaries and enforcing them. Make sure you and your wife are on the same page or your kids will pay the price. Boundaries are part of the disciplinary process, so don’t throw them out there if you don’t intend to enforce them. It can never be about what’s comfortable for you. It’s what is good for your children.
- Your kids need to see how a man ought to treat a woman by the way you treat your wife. Ask yourself: Is the way I treat my wife how I would want my daughter treated by another man? Is it the way I would want my son to treat another woman? Set the example for both your sons and daughters. And by the way… never ever allow your children (especially your sons) to disrespect their mother!
- Take seriously your responsibility to prepare your children for adulthood. It’s your job to disciple them, not the church’s. Somebody is teaching your kids. Make sure it’s you! Enlist the help of your parents in this process even if it was never part of your upbringing. Encourage them to be involved. They are a vital piece for helping you succeed as a parent in raising your children to become mature, responsible, and godly adults.
- The priority of praying for your kids must never be doubted. Create your own war room where you can pray and intercede on their behalf. And be sure to spend time with your wife praying for your kids. Enlist their grandparents to do the same. We have Scriptures to Pray cards that can help you in this. Pick up a copy of Mark Batterson’s little book, Praying Circles Around Your Children and go through it together.