Updated: Oct 6, 2021
Fathers, like mothers, are pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being. This parenting thing is not "one is better, or more important than the other." Both mother and father greatly impact the lives of their children. Both are vital in the development of their children. Mother’s role will always be primary in terms of intimacy, care and nurture. As a child matures he/she will increasingly look to the father as the role model for decisions and adopting values. That’s not to say that mothers don’t contribute to a child’s success or failure, certainly they do. But too many times, the mother seems to be the only one who recognizes that fact.
Children look to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength. Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and supportive, it greatly affects a child’s cognitive and social development. It also instills an overall sense of well-being and self confidence.
I remember the story of the little boy that went into the store and told the grocer that he needed a box of tide. “What do you need a box of tide for?” asked the grocer.
“I’m gonna wash my cat.” the boy said.
“Son,” he said, “I think Tide is a little strong for a cat.” But the boy was insistent so he sold it to him. A week later the boy was back in the store. The grocer saw him and said, “Son, how’s your cat doing.”
“My cat’s dead,” he said.
“Well,” the grocer replied, “I told you Tide was too strong for him.”
“Oh I don’t think it was the Tide,” said the little boy, “I think it was the spin cycle that did him in.”
As parents, kids can put us through the spin cycle. The greatest challenge, job or project we will ever have is being a good parent to our children. At the same time, it is the most difficult, time consuming, costly task you will ever undertake. Not only that, it can be the most rewarding, especially when you watch your children that you have labored so diligently over for 2+ decades, enter into your world as young adults.
God made it clear in Deut. 5:9-10 that He allows the consequences of ancestral sin to impact several generations. On the flip side, He also allows the descendants of those who love and obey Him to reap the positive results of Grandpa’s and Grandma’s good deeds and obedience to God.
This pattern can be observed all around us. For instance, a very high percentage of abused children end up beating their own kids. Those raised by a drunk often become adult alcoholics themselves.
That’s why we, as parents, have to take the Deuteronomy mandate seriously. That’s why we have to be Intentional when it comes to passing the Heritage to our children.
In Deut. 6:4-7 we find what I call the Deuteronomy Mandate: “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down and when thou risest up.”
As parents we have but three windows of opportunity to influence our children:
Ages 0-7 Imprint Period – Here we are dictator as parents. We tell our kids ‘everything’ they need to know and do. It is essential to their growth and safety. However, the dictator MUST die. If not, you will have a rebellious child on your hands. Here we lay the foundation upon which all future learning will be built upon. If you fail here … you fail period.
Ages 8-15 Impression Period – Now we move from being over them as dictator to being in front of them as teacher. This is what we call “Tell and Show” – we tell them everything they need to know and do, then we show them … we model it in our own lives for them to follow after. This is not a "do what I say, not what I do" type of parenting. Consider this, a child will remember 10% of what he/she hears but 50% of what they see. That's a lot of impressing to keep in mind.
Age 16+ Coaching Period – Now we are not longer over them as dictator, or in front of them as teacher, but behind them as coach. They are naturally pulling away from the nest; they are entering the game of life. Your job is to coach them from the sidelines because you cannot play this game for them. Sometimes you may need to pull them from the game, but this only happens when a learn rule have been violated and imminent personal injury is present. However most of the time you ‘need’ to let them learn from their mistakes, leave them in the game and even take some well deserved hits. That's a hard one for parents because our natural instinct is to protect our children. But we must realize that if we protect them from every little mistake they will never learn on their own and they will enter the adult world at a disadvantage.
So it needs to be understood that as parents we will pass a heritage to our children: good, bad or indifferent, it WILL be passed. The heritage will be passed in three key areas: Spiritual, Emotional and Social.
SPIRITUAL - Many homes totally neglect this vital element of the threefold cord. For whatever reason, parents do not offer their children a spiritual basis for life. We are all spiritual beings who need spiritual understanding and expression. Show me a person who had no spiritual training as a child, and I’ll show you a person who was handed a weak heritage. Show me a person who has rejected the religious heritage he was given, and I’ll show you a person with identity problems.
EMOTIONAL - For better or for worse, the emotional culture in which we are raised has a profound impact upon our emotional well-being as adults. Those reared in an atmosphere of love and acceptance tend to be more secure than those from a critical, distant family. If you came from a home in which affection was rarely demonstrated, you may find expressing your love more difficult than those from a family of huggers. In short, each of us is an emotional reflection of the environment in which we were raised.
SOCIAL - How we relate to others as adults often grows out of how social issues were handled in the home. It is from our parents that we learn how to treat (or how not to treat) a husband or a wife. It is with siblings that we practice the skills of sharing, caring, and sometimes, fighting. It is with our family that we spend our formative years eating meals together, playing games together, taking vacations together, and talking together. Those early social experiences, good and bad, have left their mark on who we are and how we interact with others.
It just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Some were given a wonderful, healthy, positive heritage – a beautiful gown, or a royal. Others were handed rags. For some people the process of passing a solid heritage is a natural outgrowth of who they are. Others can’t even fathom the experience of positive family living. The good new is that anyone can give a positive heritage. The bad news is that the process of doing so will be much harder for some than others.
The willingness to endure difficulty or personal loss for the sake of others is the essence of charity. It is also the key to giving a strong heritage when you didn’t receive one.