Continuing our parenting series, we look specifically to fathers. Fathers play many roles in rearing their children. Through each role, they prepare their children for life and give their kids opportunities to build a relationship with dad.
Christ follower: Fathers should model Christ and help meet their children’s spiritual needs.
Christian fathers should make faith a way of life in the family (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
Leader: Children need direction. The passive father fails to provide quality leadership; the dictatorial father models unhealthy leadership styles. Dads should show their kids how to use power and influence for God’s glory and other’s good (Colossians. 3:21).
Male: Children need a strong, healthy father. Children mean something special when they say “Dad.” Be that special male figure in the life of your children.
Provider: Children need providers. Dads should bring home the cash (1 Timothy 5:8) and bring up the kids (Ephesians 6:4). Avoid providing presents at the expense of your presence. They need and want you.
Caregiver: Children need nurturing. Be involved in a wide range of your children’s lives. Encourage them to soar in areas of their interest and giftedness.
Teacher: Children are learners. Fathers are expected to “train up a child in the way he should go,” and “bring up your children in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4b). Teaching takes place in the everyday activities with children. Fathers teach mostly through who they are, not by what they say. But, what they say is important.
Disciplinarian: Children need boundaries. Fathers should not dump all the discipline on the mother, or relate only to their children as disciplinarian. Neither should dads be too strict or too lenient. A good sense of right and wrong, and a proper set of boundaries produce better, not bitter, children (Hebrews 12:9-11).
Protector: Children need security and safety. Dads should avoid being overprotective and under-protective. They cannot protect their children from everything dangerous and sinful. Yet, they can help them anticipate dangers before they encounter them. They can also create a family lifestyle that reduces their children’s chances of being exposed to improper activities during impressionable times.
Coach: Children need playful dads who instruct and guide. Dads who enjoy life help their kids face challenges, handle competition, and practice cooperation.
Friend: Children need friendly fathers who accept them as they are, enjoy being with them, and understand them. Absentee fathers and abusive fathers poison their children. Being best buddies with one’s children is not healthy either. Pals are equals; dads and their kids are never equal. But, dads should be friends with their children.
No father is perfect, but for the sake of his children and the glory of God, he should give it his best shot. We have a perfect role model in our heavenly Father!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Daniel Akin currently serves as the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a professor of preaching and theology.)