A father, a son and a believer, I have so many experiences of the beauty and exhilaration of fatherhood. I have been blessed. My father set a beautiful example. I have been able to enjoy my sons all the way into their young adult lives. I stand in the transcendent glow of our heavenly Father, no matter if I am the obedient or prodigal son. So I put forth these ideas, not as an expert, but as an exuberant practitioner.
Three Simple Steps To Real Fatherhood
Be There- The deepest magic of fatherhood is to be present. When my boys were just starting elementary school I changed jobs from one in which I worked 65 hours per week to one in which I worked 45 hours per week. The block building, morning breakfasts and cloud watching is where the magic happens.
Enjoy- Enjoy what your kids enjoy. I am a sport fanatic, my father hates sports. He cannot tell you the winner of any Super Bowl, World Series or World Cup. However, the stories of his Madden-like exuberance when I was playing football are legendary.
Teach- Through you words and your actions, teach your kids to be strong, to be kind, to be thrifty,to be curious, to be patient, to be determined and to love God. Teach you children with words. Share your principles with your kids, discuss the messages they are receiving from the world, share stories from you life and share God’s word. Speaking values into your sons and daughters them will help them interpret the world around them, but your actions will cement their values. Show your children how to live in this world by proudly allowing them to see how you live in this world. Dave Ramsey said, “when you face challenges on your knees, your children will learn to pray.”
Fatherhood For The Fatherless
I know I am deeply blessed with a wonderful father. I am surrounded by family and friends who are not so fortunate. Those of you whose father abandoned you or ignored you or abused you or damaged you in some way, I have two thoughts for you.
Forgive- This simple step will change your life. I was in deep conflict with one of my sons. He was in deep defiance of our rules for his life and over a three hour span of our argument he lied to my face more than a dozen times. I knew every lie and each was like a slash with a sword to me. As he walked away from me, I stood there wounded, bleeding, devastated. God spoke to me. He said simply, “Forgive him, he is your child.” I did. Within 10 minutes my son had fallen into my arms begging for my forgiveness. I had nothing but love for him, my wounds were already healed.
Your forgiveness will never take away the wrongs done to you. Forgiving your father will not cause him to reconcile with you. Forgiving, truly, deeply forgiving will heal you. Here is a verse from mewithoutYou’s latest cd, it’s all crazy! it’s all false! it’s all a dream! it’s alright:
if you’re Old Man did you wrong,
maybe his Old Man did him wrong
so if you’d care to sing Forgiveness songs
come down and join our band
we’ll cut you like a Sword
and sing Forgiveness songs
(don’t worry, it’ll heal just fine)
Healing will change nothing, healing will transform you. Healing will set you free.
Embrace- It matters not if your earthly father was great or a failure. We are all wounded in some way. God, our ultimate Father has created all and is present in our life. God engages us with the simple mantra he spoke to me years ago, “Forgive him, he is your child.” God is forgiving you now. Look up, look inward, accept His forgiveness and love. I don’t care if you are the most deeply religious church going father or you are lost and alone in this world. Embrace our Father’s forgiveness. You will be a transformed son,husband, father, brother, friend and man. Nothing will change, but you will never be the same.
I dedicate this missive to Charles Elton Harvey of Vidor, Texas. This kind, hardworking, stoic man showed me how to be a man and he is manifest in all that is the best in my sons.
Happy Father’s Day to all sons and fathers.