Balancing this thing called fatherhood is tough. Rearing your biological kids is challenging, but then toss in a few more little ones in a blended family scenario, and you’ve got the potential for a real special situation.
Whether that is a negative or positive scenario is very much up to you. Where do we start as dads who want to be the ideal father, but honestly have no clue where to catch traction?
I can assure you it’s not by diminishing your authority as the head of the household to be their buddy, nor is it elevating your physical strength to a power position of intimidation. To find the balance, look to the book – God’s Word.
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
This verse cuts both ways. We like to think of it as fathers teaching their beloved children the ways of God’s word, and then imagining those little angels fluttering off into the world to do good deeds. The reality is that kids also emulate lazy, uncaring, and violent behaviors witnessed at home.
I have a friend who is a working, responsible adult with a ten-year-old son. The friend said he really wanted to buy something for himself that he enjoyed. I encouraged him. He replied that his son wouldn’t allow him to make the purchase. Either this guy really didn’t want to buy the item or he needs a swift kick in the man pants.
Unfortunately, we see this far too often. Parents surrender their God-ordained position over the children by voluntarily placing themselves on an even level with the child. I said even and not equal because there is no equality between the status of the two. The parent may return to their role as authority figure if they so decide to, but the child is relegated to childhood.
God uses a very clear hierarchy for the family, that is also reflected in His kingdom. When parents demote themselves to be seen as cool, fun, or the better of the two adults, they interfere with this “chain of command,” thus causing unintentional harm to the child.
Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.Deuteronomy 5:16
You as a parent are meant to be honored. Children who do not or cannot honor their father and mother, risk an uncertain future within God’s grace. Deuteronomy is but one of many verses that address the relationship between parent and child.
Also, parents who fail to uphold their duties add increased risk to their child’s difficulties as they progress in life. Here are a few examples of what happens when dad is too busy for his kids.
- Kids are two times more likely to drop out or fail school
- Kids endure their own adulthood 54% poorer than their parents.
- Kids in their teens are seven times more likely to become pregnant.
- Kids are more likely to be incarcerated.
The key to the data above is that these are not cases of absent fathers. These are scenarios where the dad is either living in the home, or has shared custody with the child’s mother. The cause is inattentiveness, and look what effect it has on your kids.
Key studies illustrate that men, even with moderate parenting skills, still have a positive influence on their child’s development.
- Babies with involved dads are emotionally secure, confident in new situations and are eager to explore (learn)
- Kids with involved dads are more sociable.
- Toddlers with involved dads are better problem solvers and have higher IQ by age 3.
- Kids with involved dads are better prepared to start school, and deal with the stress of being away from home.
- US Dept of Ed shows kids with involved dads were 43% more likely to earn mostly A, and less likely to experience behavior problems.
- Girls with involved dads have higher self-esteem and are much less likely to become pregnant.
- Boys with involved dads show less aggression, and more self-direction.
- Kids with involved dads achieve higher levels of education, success in careers, and experience psychological well-being.
- Kids with involved dads grow to have long-term, successful marriages as adults.
Notice how I repeated that four-word opener (Kids with involved dads) to cement the point?
Guys – we’ve got to do our part. Moms are amazing, but they simply cannot be dad. Let’s be the men God called us to be. We can still be tough, but also be present and loving.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14