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5 things I wish I had known before I became a Dad

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MY PERFORMANCE AS A DAD

Father’s Day is here, so it is a good time to ponder my performance as a Dad. I have fathered 3 wonderful daughters and I am more often than not astounded that they have turned out as well as they have. It is a good thing they were nurtured by excellent mothers! All three are adults now and I am very proud of all three. As I mull over my successes and failures, I find there are five things that I wish I had known when I first became a father.

SHOW THEM THE FULL EXTENT OF YOUR LOVE

(John 13:1) It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

This passage occurs when Jesus removes His robe of authority and washes the feet of the apostles. Jesus is about to go to the cross (that’s NOT the full extent of His love!?), but John tells us that Jesus submits to the role of the lowliest servant and washes their feet. Further, Jesus tells us in verse 14 that we should go and do likewise. In other words, as part of our role of being a father, it’s not just the big things that matter. It’s also the little things that reveal our character as a dad. Don’t wait for the big tests to show them you’re willing to meet them at their point of need!

DISCOVER THEIR LOVE LANGUAGE

Many Christians are familiar with the work of Dr. Gary Chapman and rightfully so. His classic books on the five love languages have sold numerous copies and are well worth reading. Each and every one of us has certain actions that when they are performed by those close to us, they have a deep and profound meaning for us. Depending on the person and their personality, these deeply meaningful actions serve to make us feel loved, wanted and appreciated. For example, many people are particularly attuned to kind words. Some treasure “quality time”. Many find that gifts “turn their crank”. Many yearn for touch and affection. Still others seem to value “acts of service” done out of love. Indeed, it is well worth your time to find out as early as possible what your child’s love language is. There are numerous sites that discuss the five love languages.

PLAN FOR YOUR CHILDREN

(Deu 4:9) Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children …”
(Prov 22:6) Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Children are obviously much more than happy biological accidents. While many couples decide when they want to have children (or at least attempt to!), very few decide in advance what values they want to instill in their children. Most couples have decent ideas of what they want in their children – honesty, courtesy, neatness, etc. Yet few parents ever take the time to actually write down a plan on paper of what they want their children to absorb over a lifetime.

In a conversation that my wife and I had with a friend, it became very obvious that her parents had developed a plan of what they wanted to instill in their child. Obviously, they had to be flexible, and they knew that the plan would change over the years. What was critical was that her parents had decided issues in advance that they knew they would ultimately contend with. Thus, they would at least be somewhat prepared. For example, they had a plan of how they would teach the kids how to handle money. They decided to give allowances early – giving an allowance was their way to teach how to budget money. They had planned for how they would teach responsibility. For example, at what age would they start chores? What kind of chores? They had planned how they would discipline. Again, they could not cover all the bases in advance, and they knew they had to be flexible. But they sat down and discussed several key areas that they wanted their children to absorb as they grew, and they were reasonably prepared. They were proactive in deciding in advance what they wanted to impart regarding many values, life skills, and morals. They knew that if they wanted their kids to be prayers, they should make a conscious effort to pray in front of them - early and often. They would read the bible early and often so that the kids would very likely be bible readers. Without question, they made mistakes, and they had to make changes. But in the end, it was clear that Proverbs 22:6 had worked very well in their children’s lives

CREATE INCENTIVES TO DO THE RIGHT THING

Part of the plan that our friend’s parents created had to do with creating incentives to do the right thing, not just punishments for when the kids did something wrong. They decided in advance they would publicly praise them when they did well. The “refrigerator museum” was constantly full of “atta-boys” and praises.

BLESS YOUR CHILDREN DAILY

Blessing holds a special place in the Bible. In the Old Testament, we find that the Hebrew word barak is typically used to designate blessing and cursing – virtual opposites of each other. Barak means to “kneel” or “kneel in front of” or “kneel before”. Barak appears over 500 times in the Old Testament to imply blessing.

Blessing also means to bring a person under the authority of God in a given area, presumably bringing God’s goodness and peace upon them. The power of blessing and cursing is not to be underestimated. It is seen to be most powerful (Luke 6:28, Rom 12:14). The blessing is meant to be used often, especially when it seems hardest to use it! (1 Cor 4:12).

Roy L. Honeycutt, writing in Holman’s Bible encyclopedia gives an excellent explanation of the significance of the blessing and its profound implications.

“The unique concept of the spoken word… is important for understanding the significance of both cursing and blessing. According to Old Testament thought patterns, the formally spoken word had both an independent existence and the power of its own fulfillment. The word once spoken assumed a history of its own, almost a personality of itself … The Word of God exists as a reality and has within itself the power of its own fulfillment. Formal words of blessing or cursing also had the same power of self-fulfillment. … Blessing and cursing released suprahuman powers which could bring to pass the content of the curse or the blessing. …The Lord was the source of all blessing…”

As Honeycutt points out, when Isaac mistakenly blessed Jacob rather than Esau, he could not recall the blessing, for it now existed in history (Gen. 27:18-41); it had acquired an identity of its own.

One example I am aware of is parents who pray Eph 1:17 over their child daily (even before she was born!).

(Eph 1:17) keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Indeed, let Eph 1:17 bless you and your children as you raise them!

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Mr. Marica contributes incisive and contemporary Christian commentary for Examiner.com on a regular basis. He holds an MA from Liberty University, and he is the Director of Godly Training Ministries. You can contact Mr. Marica at godlytraining@comcast.net.

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