Five Suggestions for Dads

Five Suggestions for Dads
Chap Clark

Five suggestions for dads on how to deal positively with their children.

Is there a dad alive who does not want to do right by his children? Yet many, if not most dads struggle with at least two destructive patterns:

1. Exasperating their children. That is, overcorrecting and vexing them in a manner that provokes them to anger: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4)

2. Embittering their children. That is, being hard on them in a manner that provokes resentment, a feeling of inferiority, and loss of heart. “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Col. 3:21).

How about taking a personal inventory to see if you in fact exasperate or embitter your children:

* Do you continue to push your children when you have already made your point?
* Do you ask more of your children than they are capable of handling or comprehending?
* Do you utilize poor timing in trying to guide or correct your children when their need at that moment is support and encouragement?
* Do you show more interest in your child’s performance – scholastic, athletic, or even church – than in their life?
* Do you demand respect while not giving it?

Five strategies that may help us fathers from exasperating or embittering our children:

1. Be for your children: Your children need to know you are their biggest fan; that you are there for them; that you want to be close to them. In a word, they need to experience your unconditional love when they are anything but loveable. (Lk. 22:31, 32; 3n. 21)

2. Listen to their reasons: Given your years of experience, it is often difficult to listen to the voice of inexperience and youth. Yet, your children deserve the respect of a complete hearing which will help you grasp their point of view, will communicate your respect for them, and will help build their confidence.

3. Stay calm: Take a deep breath, step back, offer a prayer and put a zipper on your mouth. (Psa. 141:3; Pro. 17:27; Jms. 1:19,20)

4. Ask questions: Most men are pretty good at giving advice or diagnosing their kids’ problems. All the more reason we need to learn to ask questions and really listen before jumping to conclusions in offering solutions or counsel. Such an approach often opens dialogue toward mutual resolution. (Pro. 18:13)
5. Communicate without attacking: For example, “I feel frustrated by what looks like lying” is more likely to open the door for discussion than “You lied to me!” The key is to not judge intent or motive. Gently sharing with your child how his words or actions affect you and others will help avoid conflict, defensiveness and exasperation. It also may open the door to an open and honest exchange that will help him identify his error and the best course of action for change. (I Pet. 3:8-11; Col. 3:12-14)

Conclusion: I can’t help but wonder if at the root of much family conflict are our monumental world class male egos. Because we Dads are king of the mountain, we are all too capable of demanding Swiss watch perfection from our children. Could it be that God will take us to the woodshed unless we possess a broken humble spirit in how we choose to relate to our children?

Key ideas derived from “On the Home Front” by Chap Clark, Discipleship Journal, Issue 137, 2003; page 84

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”