07.14.2011 The Blog No Comments

Daddy 101:Basic Instructions Pt. 1

Rule #1: do not tell your children that their mother is stupid.

The pilot came on the intercom and began with “well folks, this is your Captain speaking.” It is never good news when the pilot comes on the intercom and begins with “well folks.” The announcement this time was informing us that we would be getting off the plane due to an extended delay.At the top of the jet-way, the gate agent had to go through the tedious task of checking everyone back off the plane. While waiting in line, a mother began to rush back down the jet-way to retrieve an item she had left on the plane. As her young child ask his dad why mommy was going back to the plane, the father responded, “Because mommy is stupid.”

It is almost unbelievable to think that a father would ever allow those words to come out of his mouth, but the scary part is that those words are considered gentle when compared to some of the other things fathers say about mothers. In Ephesians 6:4, Paul exhorts fathers to not provoke their children to anger. In one sense Paul is reflecting on the power a father has over his children as it pertains to making children angry as a response to the fathers actions against the children. I think too, however, that Paul is reflecting on the power a father has as an example to his children.

Do you know an angry person? Do you know someone who seems to always be at the edge of their frustration level or teetering on their last nerve? If they have children, watch how the children act. We have all heard the phrase, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” Children learn by watching. Children will do what their parents do, not just what they say. This is, unfortunately, the reason that more than likely the children of smokers will become smokers, the children of addicts will become addicts, and the children of abusers will abuse. As much as they despise it themselves, it is what has been modeled for them. Children see, children do.

After Paul instructs fathers to not provoke their children to anger he quickly adds that fathers are to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. I have heard one individual call this bringing your children up in the “school of the Lord.” The interesting thing about the phrase “bring them up” is that in the original Greek language this was a nursery term that Paul also used in Ephesians 5 when commanding husbands how they were to “nourish and cherish” their wives like their own bodies (Ephesians 5:29). Isn’t it interesting to consider how the role of husband and father are so closely connected?

So how does a father bring up his children? Let’s go back to the smoker analogy. How effective is it for a smoker to tell a child that they should never smoke? Would any of you go to Bernie Madoff for financial advice? What if you want to lose weight? Who do you go to? The individual who says, “do what I say not what I do?” Of course not, we all want to follow someone who is leading by example, and the same is true for children. Fathers are to bring up their children in the school of the Lord by example. A child should see and hear his or her father pray regularly, and not just at meal times (although this is a starting point). A child should see his  or her father read Scripture both quietly and privately, as well as corporately with the family. A child should observe his or her father praising God for all the things in life, good and bad. And a child should hear his or her father say loving things about his wife, not that she is stupid.

I will admit that I have become a much better driver since having children. I realize that someday I am going to ask my teenage daughters to slow down as we take a turn around a tight corner or begin to pass every other vehicle on the highway. I need to know that when I ask them to slow down, that I have already demonstrated for them what this looks like. For my son, I want to know that he has learned to love his future wife because of my example, not in spite of my example. A good friend of mine once said of his daughters that he wanted to set the bar so high in regards to how a man should treat a lady that his two girls couldn’t help but be drawn to high quality, godly, men.

Try this: tonight at the dinner table, look each of your children in the eye and briefly tell them how much you love their mother. Tell them that you think their mother is beautiful, smart, and special. I bet it will put a smile on their face as well as mother’s.

About the author

Ryan is the Founder & Director of Daddy Discipleship and the Associate Editor for The Journal of Discipleship & Family Ministry.

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