What Fathers Need to Know…
By Rev Kenneth Chong
June 18, 2023
“Dad, call it my reproach of you but I still love you loads!” Children grow up gradually and enter puberty. They used to obey your instructions and now they will confront you from time to time. No matter how good the direction you point them to, they do not listen to or obey you. The authority as a father seems to be undermined as children try to gradually have their autonomy back. As fathers, we need to learn to accept changes.
No fathers are perfect and we make mistakes, too. I remember I had got mad before and lost my temper with my children. Surely I deeply regretted afterwards and I confessed to God. Still, I had to apologize to my children. Although I have authority in front of my children, I must still admit the mistakes I make. As fathers, we need to learn to say “sorry.”
Fathers are no giants either, much though their children like to think about them as one. When the children are young, fathers teach them various life skills and serve as tutors at home. They are also a breadwinner for the family. Children can easily make their father their first “idol.” Be that as it may, there are also times when fathers find life difficult, hard to bear or tiring. The fact is, fathers need not “pretend” before their children. We need only to frankly reveal our negative conditions. That will help our children gradually learn to be considerate of others’ weaknesses. They will also know how to respond to other people’s needs. As fathers, we need to learn how to express our weaknesses.
Sometimes, fathers would want to take control of every stage of their children’s life to make sure they can tackle every crisis in life. What the children need, the father wants to provide. When the children get into trouble, the father would want to bear the bad consequences on their behalf. Fathers may provide even before the children bring up their needs. But think about it. Can children ever grow up this way? Will they be able to solve their own problems in future? Frankly, they may not even know what they want. Fathers cannot take the place of God in their children’s hearts. How to guide them to trust in and experience God is of utmost importance. As fathers, we need to learn to let go.
Chinese fathers usually express love for their children through buying them things or accompanying them on various activities. This is no doubt important. But children would probably get their message more easily through a simple, direct word of love or a hug. I have heard many brothers and sisters say that their father is very serious and difficult to approach. But very often, we try to understand the attributes of God through the image of the father. If fathers can show authority on the one hand but be willing to express love and mercy on the other, I believe the children will experience God’s character more clearly, particularly His lovingkindness. As fathers, we need to learn to say “I love you.”
May the fathers among us help their children grow up, drawing on the strength, love and wisdom from God. May our children walk on the right path under the grace and love of Jesus all through their lives.