I recently attended a marriage conference where one morning involved separating the husbands and wives into different rooms. The conversations had to be wildly different. We guys even joked about what we thought they were chatting about.
Even more mysterious was wondering how they went about talking of being wives and mothers. As Leah would reveal as we compared notes over a lunch, our sessions went very different.
The men’s portion about fatherhood began with a request from the facilitator for the audience to share a one or two word description about their dads. I was interested, and then shocked and finally brokenhearted. Words such as strict, disciplinarian, and authority dotted the room.
Once the gloves came off, words like absent, abusive, alcoholic, dangerous, and adulterer filled the air. The sense of goodwill shifted as I watched grown men, who were husbands and fathers begin to shift as their body languages reflected the history of pain and loss that came from separation of fatherly relationships.
In archery, an increase of distance creates an increase in error. The same is true with fathering.
Distance in the act of fathering is not only geographical, but the emotional separation from your child. I often wonder what effect does generational cultures have on the relationships between fathers and their children.
My dad loved me, but never once in my 51 years, and up to the time of his passing, have I known him to tell me he loved me. He was of an old-school generation that showed, not said. His father, my grandfather, reportedly raised he and his siblings in the same method.
So I say I knew he loved me, but the counter-question would be how could I be sure?
It was through his actions, protection and provision as the head of our family’s household that I understood he loved his kids. But through the years, and the absence of emotion, affirmation or physical touch wedged a distance between father and son.
I loved him dearly, but there remains a gap where he missed the mark – my bullseye. He did so much for me, except for drawing the string of emotional confirmation, and launching an arrow of loving affirmation. It’s an unstruck target that I’ve been burdened to bear.
But bearing burdens is manly, right? It’s what we’re supposed to do to show how tough we are. I guess that’s why in a room of over 500 men, the high majority of them professed Christians, expressed deep levels of hurt and regret over their own dads missing the mark.
So what do we do?
There is no perfect father, except our heavenly Father. What we must do is draw another arrow from the quiver, take aim, and try again. Men are called to be men, and that includes mixing the role of protector with emotional provider.
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
Let’s take a biblical perspective about our roles as dads. Instead of looking at your kids as a duty or responsibility, we must become willing to accept our children as gifts from God. Each gift comes with an amazing opportunity for raising your kids for life.
Give these three simple shots a try and your aim will improve for placing the arrow square inside the bullseye:
- Recognize each child as an individual.
- Invest time getting to know each child’s unique design.
- Spend one-on-one time with each child on a regular basis.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of a womb a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Dads, it’s your time to ensure your aim is true. You must continue until you consistently hit the mark – the stakes are too high not too. What do you do to connect with your kids?