Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
This verse should probably be used every Father’s Day! It is directly to fathers.
I recall back in the 60’s when Robert Young played “Father Knows Best” on TV. He portrayed the ideal father. Do you remember? He was always shown wearing a coat and shirt and necktie, even at home. His wife baked cookies and cakes and kept the house spotlessly clean. Whenever the children had problems, she always told them, “Wait until Dad comes home and he’ll have the solution.” And he always did. He spoke with great wisdom and knew just what to tell his family to do.
The closest recently has been Dr. Huxtable in the Bill Cosby show. In his book about fatherhood is a chapter titled, “A Baffling Question.”
Cosby writes, “So you have decided to have children. You have decided to give up quiet evenings at home when you listened to good music and read good books. You have decided to give up lazy weekends when you just held each other in your arms and assured each other of your love.”
“You have decided to give up candlelight dinners where you could complete sentences. You have decided to change all your couches into trampolines. You have decided to give up your pursuit of the reproduction of fine art, and start coping with the pursuit of reproduction of yourself. Why? That’s the baffling question.”
He went on, “Poets tell us that one of the reasons that we want to have children is because we desire immortality. Yes, I must confess that I asked God for a son to carry on my family name. And God did exactly what I asked him to do. But now there are times when I ask my son not to reveal his identity. I beg him, ‘Make up a name. Tell them anything, but don’t tell them you belong to me, whatever you do.'”
“Immortality?” he says. “Now that I am the father of five, my only hope is that I will live long enough to see all five of them leave home.”
Perhaps you have felt that way too. Homes become a maze of personalities and confusion and reactions.
Irma Bombeck tells about a daughter in the family who calls out for all to hear, “Has anybody seen my new sweater?” Her father answers, “You mean the one that cost $65? Her sister says, “You mean the one you won’t let me wear?” Her brother says, “You mean the stupid one that makes you look fat and ugly?” Her grandmother says, “You mean the one with the low neckline?” Her mother says, “You mean the one that must be washed in cold water by hand?”
The same sweater. But they all said something different, and none of them answered her question. Is your home like that?
Maybe you’ve heard the old story about fatherhood that says that when a child is 4 years old, he says proudly, “My dad knows everything about everything.” When he is 7 he says, “Dad knows almost everything about everything.” When he is 12 he says, “Well, it’s only natural that dad doesn’t know everything.” When he is 14 he says, “Dad is old fashioned.” When he is 21 he says, “Dad is hopelessly out of step with the times.” When he is 25 he says, “Maybe Dad does know something about a few things.” When he is 35 he says, “Maybe we ought to call Dad and check this out with him.” When he is 50 he says, “I wonder what Dad would have thought of this?” And when he is 65 he says, “I sure wish I could talk to Dad again.”
Fathers. I’m convinced that not until fathers get their act together will we see real change for good in our homes and in our society.
4 suggestions for you.
My first suggestion is “Be sure to teach your children respect for parental authority.”
If your children do not respect authority in the home they will not respect authority in the rest of the world. How do you do it? You begin at a tender age to teach your children the guidelines in your home. “You are a member of this family and this is what we do. Here are the boundaries. Here are the rules and regulations. As long as you live in this home, you will live by these rules and regulations”
As children get older, they become more resistant. There will come in a time in almost every child’s life when they will rebel against that authority. There will come a time when you have drawn the line and that little someone will place his or her little toe across the line and there will be a confrontation.
That is the most important moment in their life. The child says, “I am going to see just how much I can get by with.” It is a test of authority. It is a crucial point in the whole episode of fatherhood and you must decide how you are going to handle it.
Is it rebellion or not? Sometimes kids make honest mistakes and they are sorry for them later. But there comes a time in every one of their little lives when they step across that line. It’s a challenge to see if Dad would back up what he’s been saying,or not.
And if you don’t, there will be another contest tomorrow. And the next day and the next and the next, until finally they have become the authority and you are the one in submission.
Now it is my personal opinion that is not the time to sit down and have a conversation about the virtues of obedience. It is my opinion that is the time to apply the teaching of the Scripture about “Sparing the rod and spoiling the child.”
I am not talking about abuse or cruelty. I am talking about a needed element in a child’s life from the hand of one who says, “This is something I am not doing to you, I am doing it for you because I love you so much.”
I think we have to earn their respect. I don’t think we can expect a child to give in to our system of values and rules and regulations unless we are consistent, unless somehow we model out in our own life that we believe in the things that we have taught.
We need to show them by example and gain respect by obeying the same rules that we give to them. But when authority is questioned, we must follow through or it will be questioned again and again and again.
The greatest times to love a child are during times of discipline. After the punishment is over and the tears have been shed, what a tremendous opportunity to reassure a child of your love. Take them in your arms and assure them that this is not because you hate them. It is because you really love them and want them to be the best kind of person they can possibly be for God. That takes us to point 2.
Love your child unashamedly! It has been proven over and over again by those who study abnormal childhood that one of the chief contributors to those abnormalities is the absence of love in the home.
That begins with husband and wife. A friend says he and his wife did a lot of things wrong as parents, but one thing they did supremely right was love each other. Every once is a while his kids would come around the corner and see them locked in a passionate embrace. And all 4 of their children would giggle and whisper to one another.
Never once did they question that Mom and Dad loved each other and never did they question that both parents loved them.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. All his children are married and when they come home he says that they sit on the couch and put their arms around one another and kiss and whisper in each others ears. And he’ll turn to his wife and ask, “Who taught them to behave that way?”
Recently a survey was conducted in an Oklahoma high school. Ten of the most rebellious kids, the ones who failed in the classroom, the ones who would not submit to authority, we asked a series of questions.
One question was, “When was the last time your Mom and Dad said, ‘I love you?'” All ten said they couldn’t remember, of if they could it was 2-3 years ago, but not recently.
Ten top students were also brought in, the ten who made the best grades, who seems to relate best to their peers and teachers and people in positions of authority. They were asked the same questions. “When was the last time your Mom and Dad told you that they loved you?” EVERYONE could say without exception, “Today, yesterday, or this week at the latest.”
How essential it is that men learn how to love their family and express that love in a way that will be meaningful to all.
Thirdly, be sure that you don’t make the mistake of thinking that giving them material things is an adequate expression of love. We’ve been told a lie that we can buy our kids things and give them presents and gifts and that this communicates our love for them.
But it doesn’t. In our time of great affluence we have deprived children of one of the basic needs in life–to know what it is to want sometime and to work for it and to know the sense of fulfillment that comes when we get it.
When a lot of folks my age get together, we talk about the “good old days.” We talk of working for 35 cents an hour and about not knowing where our next meal was coming from. Do you know why we do that? Because those were the days of want. We wanted lots of things we didn’t have. And we had to wait a long time to get them.
Now we have discovered the experience of wanting and dreaming and planning and working for and finally having is one of the great experiences of life. Most of us are robbing our children of that. We buy them tricycles before they can walk and bicycles before they can ride. We buy them jewelery and clothes…. and they never know the experiece of wanting and working for something important.
A cup of cold water is not worth very much to someone who is not thirsty. But it is worth more than gold to the person in the desert who realizes that if he doesn’t get something to drink he is going to die.
The basic experience of wanting and having those wants fulfilled is one the greatest needs of life. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are expressing love by buying trinkets and giving them to your children.
Finally, we must bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
I think that acknowledging God and worshipping God ought to be a habit, the best habit that we can ever have. Again, I think we need to begin when children are very young.
Psalms 78, Deuteronomy 6 and many Bible passages tell us to teach our children as we sit and as we stand up and as we lie down, to pass on from one generation to the next the instructions of God so that they won’t be stiff necked and rebellious. We are to pass on the rich heritage of the faith of our fathers to our children and to their children’s children– from one generation to another.
We can do that in a right way, or we can do it in a wrong way. We can created misconceptions about God in the home.
Three fathers each felt the soft hand of his child and realized the responsibility of teaching his child about God. One felt the awesome responsibility that was his, so he taught the child about the power and might of God. As he walked along the pathway of life and came to the tall trees in the forest, he pointed up to them and said, “God made them and God can cause them to come crashing down anytime He wants to.” As they walked in the hot sun he said, “This is God’s sun. He made it and He can cause it to be so hot and so intense that the plant of the field will wither and die.”
Again and again he hammered home the power of God and how the child must be obedient to God. Then one day they came face to face with God and the child hid behind his father, afraid to even look, refusing to put his hand into the hand of God.
The 2nd father realized his responsibility. Hurriedly, he tried to teach all the important lessons he knew. As they looked at the trees they only stopped for a moment to gaze at them. As they looked at the flowers of the field they hurried on by. He told stories, but they were hurried and crammed together. He filled the child full of facts, but he never taught him how to live or to love God. Finally, one day, at twilight they came face to face with God, but the child only gave God a casual glance and then turned away.
The 3rd father felt the touch of the child in his hand and adjusted his steps to the tiny steps of the child. They walked along, stopping to look at all of God’s beauty and grandeur. They walked in the fields and picked the flowers. They felt the delicate petals and smelled their fragrance. They watched a bird in flight and another building her nest and laying eggs and sitting on them until they hatched. They watched all of the beauty of nature while the father told his child stories of God over and over again. Finally, one day in the twilight they way the face of God and without hesitation, the child placed his hand trustingly into the hand of His heavenly Father.
How are you teaching your children or grandchildren about God?