Being a father is hard. It’s one of the hardest things any man will do in his lifetime. We all want to be the perfect dad, but the reality of the matter is that we do some very dumb things. We are not perfect and God knows that! However, there are 7 things we do as fathers that are downright terrible. What are they? We start with this one:
1. Baby your child.
“A servant pampered from childhood will become a rebel.” Proverbs 29:21 (NLT)
“My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.” Proverbs 1:8 (NLT)
Pay attention to the following two words, “corrects” and “instruction.” These are important tasks of a parent who wishes to raise a well-balanced child. The Hebrew word for “correction” is used 25 times in Proverbs and has to do with corrective discipline. The idea of discipline runs like a thread through the tapestry of the Book of Proverbs. Every conscientious parent needs to study the topic of discipline in Proverbs.
The word “instruction” is the Hebrew word for “law”(torah). The Bible teaches that fathers need to lovingly discipline their children and mothers need to lay down the law. Any of you have a mother that laid down the law? Good! She was doing her job.
Why are correction and instruction necessary?
Correction and instruction give confidence to our children. Correction and instruction prepare them for life on their own. Many children grow up not knowing how to handle the rigors of adult life because dad and mom thought it more important to do things “for” them than to take the time to teach them to do things “for themselves.” Kids become young adults not knowing how to iron a shirt or blouse, or use a washing machine, or reconcile a bank statement, or hold a job because they weren’t corrected and instructed.
In “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ,” Daniel Goleman cited Jerome Kagan’s research on children who are innately, biologically timid. Parents who protected their timid children from upsetting experiences produced kids who continued to be plagued by fear as they grew older. Parents who gradually and consistently encouraged their kids to deal with more and more of the world, produced children who were much less fearful later on. This outcome challenges the thinking of many contemporary American parents who believe that children should be shielded from life’s difficulties. To the contrary, even biologically fearful children do better if their parents encourage them to conquer their fears. (Friel, p. 19)
Correction and instruction, rather than babying a child, gives him or her the confidence not only to perform certain tasks for themselves, but also how to learn to do new tasks. It enables them to overcome fear.
The other night I watched the PBS documentary on President Franklin Roosevelt. One of the most interesting parts of the biopic was the way his mother doted on him. He wasn’t allowed to bathe himself until he was 8 years old. He didn’t handle his own finances until 1941 when his mother died – only four years before his own death. All of his life before then she handled them. In fact, before moving into the White House, Roosevelt and his family lived in an adjoining brownstone with his mother. There were open doors between their homes.
What effect did being babied have on this famous man in history? After marrying (not surprisingly, against his mother’s wishes) he went on a 3-month long honeymoon to Europe with his wife Eleanor. She was surprised by his frequent inexplicable nightmares. Was he suffering separation anxiety by being away from his mother for so long? The man who said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” was constantly afraid. By critiquing his letters psychologists concluded that FDR was driven to seek power because of his inner insecurities.
Don’t baby them. It’s the first worst mistake a parent can make. Next Monday we will take on the second worst thing a father can do.
Put his marriage last! You must spend time with your children but spend time alone with your wife too. Until next time…. Be a man!
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