Being a Father in a Child’s WorldHumans are self-aware. Some people are more or less aware of themselves than others, but it is safe to say that we are conscious of ourselves all the time.
We are aware enough to avoid doing things that might be inappropriate or embarrassing. We are aware enough to know our responsibility at work, or whether people of interest to us are nearby.
Yet for all that self-awareness, and possibly because of it, we often fail to see ourselves as others see us. This is particularly important in our role as a parent.
I was reminded of this in recent years as a Grandad. I was visiting one of my children and the suggestion was made that some of the grandchildren might like to have a sleep-over at Nanna and Grandad’s house. The children showed great enthusiasm for the suggestion. I was a little surprised because I don’t think my home is particularly interesting to young children.
What I had to recognise is that my grandchildren see me through their eyes. They see me as a very significant person in their life, as a grandad. I might see myself as an older man, with greying hair, interested in matters that children wouldn’t even understand. I might see myself as of no interest to young children, but to some young children I hold a special place.
I remembered how much I enjoyed visiting my grandparents and exploring around their home and yard. They might have spent most of their time talking with my parents, but they were still very special people in my world.
King Solomon knew that fathers hold a special place in the lives of their children.
“Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6
I recall how proud I was of my dad as a child. Everything my dad did seemed important and seemed to set him above others in my mind.
When I did things I wanted my dad to see me and I valued his appreciation.
How sad that the majority of dads fail to see themselves through their child’s eyes. They might know that their opinion doesn’t count for much, so they don’t see any real need to show their ignorance. But to the child an affirmation from a father is solid gold.
Maybe we should teach dads to say something like, “That looks pretty good to me!” and “I think you are Amazing!” That’s what many a child wants to hear.
Sadly, over time, children can turn to scorning their father. If a dad has made a major investment in his child that child will hold their respect for the father much longer.
It is a sad reality that we instinctively form our impression of God, that great, external authority figure, based on our impressions of our dad. We are likely to expect God to be like our father.
If our father is uncaring or demanding, we might see God that way. If our father is hard to get through to then we may feel God is hard to connect with to. If our father is moody and changeable we find it hard to believe God is not equally as unpredictable.
Now, since God is perfect, no father will adequately represent Him. But we should at least be aware that the tone we set in our home and in relationship with our wife and children sets an unconscious expectation in our children, as to what God is like.
I suggest that dads take time out from time to time, starting right now, to observe their children and consider where they fit in the child’s world. Even if the child is rebellious or difficult, remind yourself that you are the only father your child has and your child has an innate desire to admire and to be in close fellowship with you.
Consider how you can take just a few minutes to connect with your child. Maybe some of the tasks your dump on your wife, such as listening to their schoolwork and reading, or reading them a story, can be picked up by you at times.
Maybe you can just ask them to give you an update on how things are going with them. Don’t turn that into an interrogation, but take genuine interest. Maybe you could also ask them, “Is there some way I can help you, or are you doing fine?”
I know dads who take their older children for coffee from time to time, or even once a week. I know dads who coach their child’s team or take the child off to some activity they can do together. That’s all great.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you are part of your child’s world. Yes, they are in your world, but they too have a world they see through their eyes. You are in that world, and it is wise for you to see how you fit in for them and the good and bad of how your are going.
Watch how you react to your children. They are not as grown up and tough as you are and their tender hearts can be deeply wounded by your insensitivity.
The end result you are aiming for is that your heart is turned to your children and each child’s heart is turned to you. If that doesn’t happen then the situation works out to be like a curse.
“He will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:6
May the Lord open your eyes and help you see how you can make the most of Being a Father in Your Child’s World.