1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I know this one sounds corny, but it should be at the center of your dad operating philosophy. Fathers need to know how to love their kids. For some you, this may sound a bit strange. After all, who doesn’t love their children, right? Those adorable little ones that fill your house with joy and laughter! Then they fight with each other, and fib, and get into all sorts of mischief (especially between two and four years of age not to mention the teenage years). Thank you Lord! I’ve said this before and I will say it again, love is NOT a feeling, it is a choice. As a parent, you will have to choose to love your little ones every day. I hope this advise will be extremely helpful for those of us who have strong willed children. According to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Now lets understand this bible verse in light of our father and child relationship. Of course you can apply this to just about any relationship, but this blog is for men and this series is called “How to Love Your Children”. Therefore, we need to dig our heals in and learn how to really love our kids. Men have a hard time understanding this concept because we are doers and achievers. Many of us grew up in Fatherless homes and have NO clue how a father is to love his kids. If you are one of the lucky ones who actually had a dad growing up, there is a very good possibility that your father worked a lot. And in his guilt, he showered you with stuff. So you may believe that giving things to your offspring is how you are to love them. Nothing is further from the truth. Lets search God’s word in an effort to understand just how God wants us men to love our little ones.
- Love is patient. This one is a whopper! Many dads reading this are saying to themselves, “I used to be patient, until I had children”! When your three year old spills grape juice on your khaki pants for the third time in one day, your patience starts to run thin. When you have a strong willed child, every moment of the day is a test. Will you have the ability to stay calm and not loose it? But being patient with your children gets easier as you learn not to be so authoritarian and step into an authoritative roll instead (More on this in another post). Remember, your child is young and inexperienced and many things he or she does are just childish, One day you will recall those thing with joy in your heart as you retell the stories of little Eddie’s childish antics. By the way, make note of some of them, for they will make for great stories around the table when they grow up and have a family of their own. You are called to love your little protege with patience. Doing this will forge a bond and a trust between the two of you that will pay off in latter years when your tean age child comes to you for advise knowing that you won’t “loose it” or “freak out”!
- Love is kind. As a father, we struggle with being kind. Some dads are naturally good at it, but most of us are blunt and have little concern about how people feel when we speak. “We call it as we see it”! But your children always need a kind word, especially from their father. Two of my sons play soccer, and my oldest son Eddie is pretty good at it. Last Saturday Eddie played a game and we sat next to one of the dads from the opposing team. I could tell this father loves his son dearly and wanted him to do well, but the words that were coming out of his mouth were not kind at all. “What’s the matter with you? Can’t you see the ball? Are you even trying?”! I am sure this dad meant well, but I felt bad for the kid who was trying hard to please his dad and in return he got an ear full of unkind words. I pray that this dad will learn to be kind to his son and use encouragement and patience. If you see yourself in this example, try this next time. Bite your tongue unless its a positive word that encourages. Then, after the game, sit down with your son and ask him how he feels. He will more than likely tell you that he feels bad because he missed that goal or the ball got between his legs and he was embarrassed. This is your golden opportunity! Hug you son and tell him something encouraging. “You’ll get better if we practice more”, “I’ll help you with those things, lets practice tomorrow”. Let your children fail at things and they will learn. When they fail, your job as a father is to be there to love them and guide them with wisdom and a kind word.
Fathers, remember this every day of your life: above all, show your children love. When you’re upset, instead of yelling, show them love. When they are upset, show them love. When they least expect it, show them love. Everything else is just details.