Last week, we chatted about Relationships and Integrity in Part 1 of Figuring Out Fatherhood. Catch up on Part 1 HERE. This week we conclude our blog with the final two gifts we can give our children in our journey of fatherhood: Teaching and Experiences.
This is the gift that will lead our grown children to adopt the lessons learned from us or to run in the opposite direction. “Great dads gift their children with a kind of upright teaching that prepares them to meet the challenges of life and walk in their God-ordained purpose. Doing this well necessitates vision and intentionality” (Loritts, pg. 91). As a follower of Jesus, I believe that God has gifted us the opportunity of stewarding His children, with the ultimate goal of pointing them back to Him as their true father and to launch them into this world prepared to pursue and live out the calling He has placed on their lives.
But there is the practical, disciplinary side of teaching as well; Where we teach our boys how to be men and our girls how to be women. Discipline is difficult, and the main reason I want to throw in the towel as a dad. It takes so much consistency and vision, knowing that putting in the hard work while they are young, will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Vision leaks and must be repeated again and again to be retained. One way that we have been able to implement some great teaching moments with our young kiddos is what we call Best, Worst & Weirdest. In the evening, usually at bedtime, we take some one-on-one time with our kiddos to talk through their day.
Best: What was the best part of your day? Let’s celebrate that!
Worst: What was the worst part of your day? Let’s talk through it.
Weirdest: What was the weirdest part of your day? Let’s laugh at that!
The age-old tactic of sandwiching the hard stuff in the middle of the good stuff plays out pretty well. But it gives us a chance to do some significant teaching while also helping our kiddos identify things throughout their day and how it made them feel. Right now, one of our short term goals is to raise teenagers who will want to talk to us about how they are feeling!
We are the architects of our kids normal. Especially in the early stages of childhood, we as the parents get to determine our kiddos experiences and and begin shaping their world view. “Great fathers place a premium on giving their children the R.I.T.E. kind of experiences over gifts. Things wear out and expire. Experiences endure, marking us forever.” (Loritts, pg. ?)
Start with the end in mind. Picture your kids as adults. What are the things you would want them to have learned? What values would you want to instill in them? How would you want to prepare them for life on their own? Start there and work backwards. What moments and milestones over the course of their 18 years of adolescents will help to accomplish those goals? It’s easy to exchange long term resilience for short term comfort and happiness. Father with the long view in mind. An incredibly practical resource for planning out these moments and milestones is the book Family Discipleship by pastors Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin.
The best advice Bryan gives in his book is the simple, yet often forgotten truth that “the best parenting we will ever do is from our knees. (Loritts, pg. 140) As dependent as our children are on us, we are equally dependent on our Father in heaven to accomplish anything good in the lives of our children. Fathering and failure go hand in hand. Even when we have the best intentions, we are going to fall short. Before you pick yourself back up, spend some time on your knees asking God for the strength and wisdom to try again.
Thanks so much for joining us on this journey. Comment below with any questions or reflections that come up as you pursue fatherhood. Here's to the difficult but rewarding road ahead!