I love being a Dad.
It’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had, but despite the diapers, tantrums, spills, stains, arguments, and backtalk, I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I love my kids more than I can describe in words, and I recognize that they are a gift from God. They bring me joy each new day, and raising them is one of the most sacred duties that could ever be entrusted to me.
Because I love them, I want what’s best for them, but I’m also painfully aware of my own flaws and inadequacies. I desperately want to get fatherhood right, but we live in a world with so much temptation and chaos that it’s hard to know where to start.
Thankfully, God knew how tough parenthood would be, so he gave us a roadmap to follow. The five principles below are taken straight from the Bible; I’m convinced that, if we will apply these to our own lives, then our families will thrive!
So with that in mind, here are five no-cost gifts every dad should give to his sons:
1. Live a life worth imitating.
Every Dad (including me) wants our word to be the final word. We want our kids to behave simply, “Because I said so!”
The problem is that our kids are watching our actions much more closely than they’re listening to our words. Watching my toddler try to put on my deodorant or my nine-year-old practicing shaving with my razor reminds me that my kids are going to want to do what I’m doing (whether it’s good or bad). That raises the bar for me!
Make sure your words line up with your actions, and choose to live a life of integrity. Your boys will base their ideas of manhood on your example. Eliminate any habits from your life you wouldn’t want your boys to have someday.
2. Love their Mom.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your boys is the security they’ll feel when they see you love and protect their mom. How you treat your wife will set the relational tone for the entire home, and will ultimately teach your boys the ways they should respect women.
Loving your wife also means protecting your purity. We live in a sex-saturated culture and we need to prepare our boys to overcome temptation. Looking at porn or checking out every woman who walks by is a violation of your vow to be faithful and will undermine the sacredness of your marriage. Practice purity and your boys will be much more likely to do the same.
There’s much more to discipline than just punishment (although punishment is sometimes an important aspect of it). Our children are hungry for healthy boundaries, and they’re looking to you to protect and enforce those boundaries. It’s not your job to be a domineering drill sergeant, but it is your job to make sure there’s order, structure, positive affirmation for wise choices and negative consequences for poor choices.
4. Love them unconditionally.
There are a lot of messed-up adults in the world who have “Daddy issues” because they were raised in an environment where their father’s love was either absent entirely or was conditional, based upon performance. The only perfect Father is God, who models unconditional love for us and then calls us to do the same for our kids (as best we can, of course). By your words and your actions, make sure your children are never in doubt of your love for them. They’re not perfect and neither are you, but love is perfect, so demonstrate your love as often as you can.
5. Love God and follow Him.
If these were in order, this would actually be number one! The more you love God, the more capacity He will give you to love your family. When you follow Him, you will always be headed in the right direction!
We’re not perfect, but God is, and He’ll be by your side every step of the way! When you blow it, own it. Apologize and move forward. On those days when you feel like you’re not getting through, remember that the process is slow, but the impact you’re having will endure for generations to come. Keep creating new memories, praying, striving, encouraging, disciplining, enjoying, and loving those kids and remember that each moment with them is a gift!