The 10 Commandments of Fatherhood

You want to be the dad that doesn’t ruin your kids’ lives. You do. I (probably) don’t know you personally, but I know this about you.

Because it’s the same desire I have.

I want my son (and future daughter) to look back on their childhood and say, “Daddy was a good dad. He didn’t mess me up or leave me damaged. And I love Jesus more because of my dad.”

If anyone has something to say about fatherhood, it should be the one who created fatherhood, right? God better have something to say about it if He’s going to be a good dad. Which we know He is. (1 John 3:1)

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 11.52.00 AM

image credits: mine

10 Commandments of Fatherhood

1. Do not provoke your children to anger. (Ephesians 6:4)

Don’t publicly humiliate your child. Don’t give them undue and unfair discipline. Don’t make fun of them, even privately, just you and them. Instead, actively play with them, love on them, be “present,” and look for ways to honor them.

2. Bring them up in the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Consistently have them worshipping in a healthy church. You, the adult, lead the way in church attendance and in living life openly and honestly with others (in a small group). Live out your faith at home.

3. Do not provoke your children…they’ll become discouraged (Colossians 3:21)

Encourage your children! Show them you’re proud of them…even when they color outside of the lines. Or, maybe especially when they color outside of the lines. Knowing they’ve made Dad proud is a huge accomplishment. Let them know this constantly, and help your children curb discouragement. You don’t want them seeking their sense of approval and worth from the world. Trust me, you don’t.

4. Discipline your children. (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:10)

Discipline in the moment feels negative. But it’s for our children’s good. It helps create structure, learning right from wrong, and shapes our children’s hearts. It also helps them understand the loving discipline of God that works for our good. The dad that doesn’t discipline his child is an unloving, unkind, and foolish dad.

5. Don’t abuse verbally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. (Colossians 3:8)

This is just outright sinful. Don’t ever resort to this. What they’ve done never necessitates this. Ever!

6. Have fun. (Proverbs 17:22)

Enjoy your kids! Don’t be boring. Go outside and play. Take ‘em to the park. Go to a ball game. Head out to the zoo. Play hide-and-seek. Figure out what they love, and do that with them. They’ll love you for it.

7. Give ‘em good gifts. (Luke 11:13)

Give them something that they’ll love. Study them, and know what they like. Maybe that’s a video game. Maybe that’s a new baseball glove. Maybe it’s a book or a CD or a special piece of candy. Go out of your way to know your kids and their interests. Then go get them something they’ll love.

8. Hug them. (Ecclesiastes 3:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Embrace your children. Give them comfort. Let them know they’re safe and secure with you. God loves and comforts us…let’s do the same with our kids.

9. Tell them you love them. (*Zephaniah 3:17)

Tell them every single day. Let them never doubt you love them because you fail to say it. God speaks over us…let’s speak over, and to, our children.

10. Be present. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

You can abandon your children without leaving the room. You know that, right? You can escape into something other than what you’re surrounded with and who you’re surrounded by. So put the phone down. Turn the TV off. No iPads. Or text messages. Just be with your kids. Time’s too short, and they’re too precious, to be consumed every moment with something else.

Time for dads to be dads. Ravenously loving our kids and constantly pointing them to Jesus. I’m ready to have a counter-cultural relationship with my son. Are you?

Anything you’d add to the 10 commandments?

*it’s a stretch in application, but hang with me. God’s “rejoicing over us,” to me, can apply to fathers rejoicing in love over their children. Which HAS to include telling your kids you love them. Right?

 

Me and my son

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love my son.  While some fathers may dread spending an entire day with their son while their wife works, I truly relish it.

My son loves being silly and making people laugh.

I think he’d like your response to this video.

Rex & his silliness from Ben Reed on Vimeo.

Song from the album Slugs, Bugs, and Lullabies by Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame

 

Me, Rex, and memories

img_02661

I posted some “Grandpa-isms” last week here. One of my favorites is, “There are 4 P’s that I do for my family: provide, procreate, protect…and make memories.” I have had many laughs as I try to figure out why he continues to call them the 4 P’s. However, I think that the final one, making memories, is an important piece for dads.

I have lots of memories from childhood. Things that will stick with me forever. I still remember Mom and Dad picking me up from school and taking me and my brother to the Smoky Mountains for the weekend. Or spending every Christmas Eve with my whole family at my aunt and uncle’s house eating lasagna. Or throwing the baseball with my dad for hours on end until my arm felt like it was going to fall off. Or my dad teaching how to swing a golf club with an old cut-off, duck-taped driver he constructed for me. Or having to go to sleep early the night before a big trip to Florida so that we could wake up and get on the road before God turned the lights on, only to have to change a tire that exploded while we were pumping it up after the sun rose. These were wonderful family-building times, and memories that I cherish dearly.

I want to make memories that Rex will cherish. I want him to look back on his childhood and have fond memories of the things we did as a family. I don’t want us to be a family who is so tied up with work and ministry that we don’t carve out time daily, and extended time regularly, to be with each other. I don’t have a naive view of life that says that everything will be rosy. But I’m confident that if I invest time in my son and “bring him up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” not “exasperating him,” and work to love him, be patient with him, and encourage him daily, the Lord will shape him into a godly man. I don’t have that hope because I’m some kind of super dad. Instead, I have that hope because I serve a God who changes hearts (Ezekiel 36:26), who loves despite our failings, and ultimately works all things for our redemption (Romans 8:28-29).