Today is Father’s Day. It’s that one day each year that we honor and celebrate our fathers. I’m blessed to be a dad to four little ones. And there isn’t a day I wake up that I don’t feel blessed to be a dad. But there isn’t a day I wake up that I don’t feel the weight and responsibility of being a dad.
Dads Make All The Difference
Research shows that the impact a father makes lasts a lifetime. In fact the most important factor in your child’s development is the quality of relationship he or she shares with you. It’s more important than their relationship with their grandparents, their friends, coworkers or anyone else for that matter.
Dads make all the difference.
So, what can you do?
#1 Be Present
You can’t make a difference if you’re not around. That’s why the number one thing you can do to positively influence your child is to simply show up. Be present.
How do you spend your evenings after work? What do you do on the weekends? Do you make it a priority to show up to the extra-curricular activities?
How you utilize your free time can make the biggest difference.
I try to make it home for lunch as often as I can since my kids are still at home. Usually I try to spend twenty to thirty minutes just playing when I get home from work. When I work out, I bring
my kids. They aren’t big enough to do much yet, and sure sometimes they get in the way. But it’s fun to watch them mimic dad doing burpees.
Have a family night. Thursdays are my Fridays. And almost every Thursday night w
have family movie night. I’ll pick up dinner and we watch whatever the kids want to watch.
The important thing is that we find ways to be present in our kids lives.
#2 Have Things in Common
I was listening to a leadership podcast not too long ago and the host was interviewing an author named Bob Goff about marriage. And something Goff said stopped me in my tracks. He said,
I’m always looking for one more thing in common with my wife and kids because I just want to have things in common with them.
What an incredibly godly perspective about relationships. It’s easy to get excited about what already gets us excited. It’s another thing entirely to go out of our way to get excited about things that don’t necessarily excite us but that excite our loved ones.
I have three girls and one boy. That means most of my kids get excited about princesses and twirling around like ballerinas. I’m sure this will change as they get older (I hope!), but for now I’m not above spinning and circles and showing off my best pirouette.
My kids love it. And we’re making memories that last. Who cares how ridiculous I look? (I do forbid my wife from uploading these videos to Insta Stories though!)
#3 Lead Your Kids Spiritually
Your kids are smarter than what you think. They know what’s really important to you not just because they hear what you have to say but because they see everything you do.
Don’t lead from the “do as I say not as I do” philosophy. Especially when it comes to spiritual matters.
Your kids need more than your words if you’re going to instill strong spiritual disciplines in their lives. They need your example.
Read the Bible to your kids. Pray for them regularly. Let them catch you reading your Scriptures. Let them catch you in the midst of prayer.
It’s these moments of leading by example that have the greatest impact on their long term spiritual formation.
#4 Practice Repentance
I’ll never forget taking a counseling course at Dallas Theological Seminary. My prof was talking about parenting and how every time you sin against your child there is a break in the relationship. This is true whether your sin is intentional or unintentional.
I couldn’t help but be overcome with anxiety. The day before we had a bunch of people over to the house. My little 3 year old daughter was carrying a cup of juice with no lid through the living room right over my wife’s brand new rug. Without thinking about it, I freaked out and said, “E! Don’t bring your cup in the living room!”
Everybody stopped what they were doing, and all eyes turned toward her. It took two seconds before she broke into tears.
I humiliated her.
There was a break in the relationship.
Luckily I did the right thing. I got down on one knee and told her I was sorry for embarrassing her and asked her forgiveness. She forgave me and moved on.
There will be more times like that. I’m sure you can think of some of your own. But the important thing, fathers, is that we don’t act like we’re above repentance. We need to call our sin what it is. And we need to ask for forgiveness just like everybody else. If we do that, our relationships with our kids will be stronger than we can imagine.
For more on this read my post What God Taught Me After My Very First Dad-Fit.
Rest In The Love Of Your Perfect Father
At the end of the day we can’t be perfect for our kids. No matter how hard we try, we’re going to fall short. Sometimes we’ll fall further than others. But it’s going to happen. That’s just the reality of being a sinner in a broken world.
But there is a Father who is greater than you. And unlike you and me, He never sins. He never makes mistakes. He doesn’t forget. And He never lets us down.
He’s our perfect Father in heaven who takes perfect delight in each of us. And He’s drawn near to us through His Son. And it’s in Him that we find forgiveness, rest and strength to be the dads our kids need.
So, whatever you do, draw close to Him. And be the dad who makes all the difference in the lives of your kids.