I write to you from the heart. Not because I’m perfect or because I have it all figured out. I know how hard it is to be a father. I am a father of five children myself. Like you, I’m in this delicate but exceedingly important and beautiful journey called fatherhood. I have made many mistakes along the way and I try to learn from them. I regret many things. I realize that there is always room for growth and maturity. I’m sure there are areas we all wish we could change.
Today I would like to remind you and myself about a few things: our children need us. They need us more than we can even begin to imagine. This may seem obvious to some. But perhaps others need to be reminded. It’s not enough to be physically present. We must be there in mind and soul, pouring out our energy and our time. We need to be intentional. Our children are watching us. They are not fooled so easily. They know if we are being genuine or fake. If they haven’t yet, they will figure us out sooner or later.
Spending time with our children
How much time are we spending with them? How much recreational time? How about educational time? What kind of life lessons are we teaching them? What language are we using to teach them those lessons? Is it a language of love and understanding or is it laced with hurtful and humiliating words? Do we build them up when we speak or do we bring them down? Are we listening to them? How much are we willing to learn from them? Are we praying for and with them? Are we the spiritual leaders we are called to be at home? Are we ready to sit down with them and sort through all those difficult questions they ask regarding life, death and the afterlife? Are we ready to love them even when they don’t meet our expectations? Even when they choose a different path than the one we would’ve chosen for them?
It’s not enough
It’s not enough to discipline them. It’s not enough to tell them what to do and how to do it. It’s not enough to say “do as I say and not as I do.” They need witness. Let’s be the heroes our children need. It doesn’t mean we need to be perfect. No one is. It means that we learn to recognize when we make a mistake. That we have what it takes to say “I’m sorry” to our children after we hurt them. That we tell them how much we love them on a daily basis. That they feel confident about themselves because they have a secure place at home. That no matter what happens, they can always go home. Our children don’t care about our perfection, they care about our humanity and humility. It is human to love, cry, laugh, err and learn from those mistakes.
Fathers who are husbands
Many marriages end up in a divorce. The reasons and factors vary. Many times is better to go through a divorce than to continue a toxic relationship that will ultimately hurt the children. To those husbands who are in a marriage that can still be salvaged but are inflicting pain to his loved ones by his selfish actions: repent, ask for forgiveness and change! If you already went through a divorce and are suffering from it: may God bring you healing, peace, and comfort and may he hold you in his loving arms. Know that it is never late to change. If you suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, porn addiction or any kind of addiction: admit you have a problem and look for professional help and spiritual direction. You are not alone!
To those fathers who still believe that men are superior to everyone else: stop it already! Away with the abusiveness, with the machismo, with the hardness of heart. We are not meant to lord it over our wives and children. They are not our slaves. We are supposed to love them and sacrifice our lives for them. This is what true love is. Just like Christ loved us and gave his life for us. This is the correct attitude of a father. It’s not about helping our wives with our children or with the house chores; they are our children and it’s our house as well. We have equal responsibility and equal dignity. It’s about dialogue and collaboration. We are a team. We must agree on everything related to the rearing of our children, their education and the overall well being of the family.
Oh and husbands and fathers: the best way to show your children that you love them is by loving your wife with all your heart! do you want to impact them in a positive but revolutionary way? Tell your wife you love her daily. Be sweet and romantic to her. Treat her like a queen and tell her she’s beautiful every single day.
Let’s be the husbands and fathers we are meant to be!
To conclude, here are a few Bible verses to help us meditate on the gift of fatherhood:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 4:6)
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21).
“The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who begets a wise son will be glad in him” (Proverbs 23:24).
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
“Behold, sons are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the son’s of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (Psalms 127: 3-5).
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets upon your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).