The last couple of weeks have reiterated the importance of father’s being actively engaged in the life of their kids. Unfortunately most dads are simply present, doing the necessary things, but never truly becoming fully engaged and involved in the lives of their kids. The effect of this terrible pattern is astounding. It has been proven time and again that absent father’s contribute to poor academic performance, the likelihood of drug and alcohol use and abuse, sexual immorality and trouble with the law.
For an in-depth analysis of the family as it stands today check out www.familyfacts.org.
The fact remains that it is absolutely critical to the development of every child that their father be actively involved in their life. If a biological father is not present or able to be involved a good “father figure” should be sought. The devastating effects of no father figure in the life of a developing child will be felt long into their adult years.
In order to be an effective influence in the life of his child, a father needs to know several key things about his daughter and his son. I would recommend reading the article “What Every Dad Should Know About His Daughter” by Gina McClain, and “What Every Son Needs from His Dad” by Carey Nieuwhof.
These articles are a great start to figuring out just what your son or daughter needs from you as a father, and believe me, they need specific and very different things. Just as men and women are very different so too are your son and daughter and each needs specialized attention from you, dad.
Some of the things your daughter needs from you are affirmation, a high standard for the boys she will date and the man she will marry, and to hear you talk about that standard because it is important. On the other hand, your son needs you to believe in him, needs you to pursue him when he withdraws, and needs you to be the man in his life worth looking up to.
The sad fact is that society is filled with, as Mark Driscoll would say, “boys that can shave.” Or, to put it less delicately, there are a lot of immature, irresponsible, pseudo-adult males more interested in their golf game, sports, and video games than they are in investing into the lives of their kids. Hey, nothing wrong with a game of golf or watching a football game once in a while. But when fantasy sports and social networks take up more time than what we invest in our kids it’s a problem.
As the head of our family we have a solemn responsibility before God to actively train and teach our kids the principles of God’s Word. This is a daunting task for any man that has truly considered what it means and the impending judgment we will one day face before God Almighty. And yet knowing that training and teaching our kids is one of our primary responsibilities as a man, husband and father doesn’t seem to create a necessary sense of urgency for too many men in our culture. The effects have been devastating as generation after generation has grown farther from God.
I cannot imagine standing before God one day as He asks me to give account for how I led my family only to reply that I was really good at X-Box360, won my fantasy sports league, or came in under par more often than not. Somehow I don’t think those answers will impress the Creator as He holds me accountable. And yet the actions of many men today signal that those things, and others, are more important to them than their own children.
Some things I thought would be helpful as we re-evaluate our priorities in the light of God’s Word are more practical than you might think.
- Involve your family (especially your kids) in your hobbies. Rather than spend 3 hours on the couch watching a baseball game alone, take your family to a local game (little league, minor league etc.). It’s a great and generally inexpensive activity for the whole family. Or rather than wash the car all alone, get the whole family involved and make it a fun-filled time of spraying water everywhere.
- Watch cartoons. Too much TV is a waste, but let’s face it, we all like a little down time in front of the television. So make it a family experience by watching your kid’s favorite cartoons with them. Truth is, you might really like them (Phineas and Ferb is one of my favorites) but you also need to know what they are watching.
- Get a job. No, don’t get another job dad; get your kids working with you around the house. We all have that long “to-do” list of projects we want to see done. Well, how about bringing the kids along to be your “special helper” as you check things off the list. You will spend time with them, and even get to teach them practical skills they will use later in life.
- Serve God together. Your kids need to see you putting action to your words when it comes to your faith. Nothing makes things more real for a kid like seeing their dad serving the community, serving at church or just plain serving others. Make sure your kids can look back and remember “all the people my dad helped” because he made time to serve and took the kids along.
Our kids don’t need fancy toys or the latest and greatest electronics – though they might think they do. When it comes right down to it our kids need us to be actively engaged in their lives; they need us as their dad to care more about their life than sports, cars, guns, computers or anything else.
Among other things we need to remember that “they won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.”