From Our Father to All Fathers: Words of Advice on Parenting
Our heavenly Father didn't leave our fathers without instructions on how to be a great dad.
Father’s Day is a time to celebrate and honor our fathers and the sacrifices they’ve made for us. Our heavenly Father gives men guidance throughout the Bible on how to be a good earthly father. Whether you are a first-time dad or a great-grandfather, here are some words of wisdom from our Father.
Teach Your Children
Following the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, Moses addressed them, exhorting them to remember all that the Lord had done for them in rescuing them from slavery. How often do we tell our children what God has done for us? These are stories that should pass from generation to generation, reminding ourselves and our children of God’s provision, protection and blessing.
You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. (Deut. 11:18-21)
Hear this, you aged men, give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. (Joel 1:2-4)
Discipline Your Children
Ask any parent: discipline is the least favorite part of parenting a child. We love our babies. We just want them to behave, stop pulling their sister’s hair, speak respectfully to us and so on. Our Father knows that discipline is part of the refining, character-building process for our children. A well-known psychiatrist once said that “overindulgence is one of the most insidious forms of child abuse.” It leaves children emotionally handicapped in the sense that they are helpless to care for themselves in a variety of ways and believe that the world owes them a favor.
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. (Prov. 22:15)
One caveat of discipline is to do so in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord — that is, in gentleness and with mercy. I watched, for example, as my nephew was provoked mercilessly by his father. The boy’s shoulders drooped and his head hung. It was clear that he was completely discouraged and felt hopeless, I’m certain, to do anything. Thankfully, my nephew was removed from the situation by his mother, but he still suffers the aftereffects of the provoking. Dr. James Dobson, a leading child psychologist, said, “Parents cannot require their children to treat them with dignity if they will not provide the same respect to them in return.”
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Col. 3:21)
He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church? (1 Tim. 3:4-5)
Do you have children? Discipline them, and make them obedient from their youth. Do you have daughters? Be concerned for their chastity, and do not show yourself too indulgent with them. (Sirach 7:23-24)
Hug Your Children
Human touch, particularly in infants and children, has a significant effect on brain development and physical growth. According to The New York Times, “Touch is a means of communication so critical that its absence retards growth in infants, according to researchers who are for the first time determining the neurochemical effects of skin-to-skin contact.” Theodore Wachs, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, showed in his research that infants who experienced more skin-to-skin contact had an advantage in mental development in the first six months of life. More than that, an embrace says, “I love you,” “you are important” and “I enjoy being with you.”
Embrace your children until I come, and proclaim mercy to them; because my springs run over, and my grace will not fail. (2 Esdras 2:32)
Live By Christian Principles
Your choices today could affect your children tomorrow — for good or bad. My parents chose to homeschool me and my two sisters in a little cabin up in the woods. It was an interesting childhood, and in many ways, hearkened back to days long gone when children had hours of play outdoors without modern distractions. They believed that God led them to this decision and wanted the best education for us. In my case, my parents’ decision made it possible for me to go through childhood without any bullying. I do have a hard time understanding what others who have been bullied have gone through; but thankfully so.
My father in particular was very strong in his faith and provided a great example of someone who follows the Lord with all his heart. I am thankful for the Christian legacy my parents gave me. It is due, in no small part, to their demonstration of faith (and their parents before them) that I am a Christian and my sons are as well.
Be careful to heed all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you for ever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God. (Deut. 12:28-29)
Your Legacy to Your Children
What will you leave to your children when you die? Wealth? Cherished mementos? Land? What if your legacy was something much more than money could buy? An eternal legacy of knowing the Lord — serving Him and serving others; understanding that our blessings come from Him; having a real relationship with Him and knowing who to turn to in troubled times. Think about what your children will glean from your interactions long after you are gone. Make sure that it is not simply something of temporal value but of lasting, eternal value.
I will establish his kingdom for ever if he continues resolute in keeping my commandments and my ordinances, as he is today. Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God; that you may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you for ever. (1 Chron. 28:7-9)
Misfortune pursues sinners, but prosperity rewards the righteous. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous. (Prov. 13:21-22)
Have a Happy — and Blessed — Father’s Day!