So, maybe it’s that we’ve been discussing the topic of parenthood at Life Church… perhaps it’s the recent birth of my second child and the subsequent time off from work… regardless… I’ve found myself reflecting on being a father… lately I’ve had too many thoughts flying around in my head to sleep… so I’ll get this one out to make more brain room.
Remember when you were young? I know, “eons ago” (come on… at least PRETEND you can remember, I mean… I feel embarrassed for you right now). Not young as in comparing yourself to someone older to boost your self-esteem young, I mean really young… five, ten, fifteen years old?? You remember the kind of hopes, ambitions, dreams you had about your future?
I remember after school most days I would come home and, after terrorizing my mother, brothers, and sister for a few hours, I’d read history/government books and play piano until long after everyone else was asleep in bed. I would just sit on that piano bench for hours writing songs… throwing them away… writing more songs… and teaching myself music from other artists/musicians I respected. Growing up, I had a strong desire – to the point of expection – that my future vocation would be tied to the music industry.
You remember those kinds of dreams/interests?
So what does this have to do with being a father? Well…
My daughter is six. She’s at the age when she’s starting to develop her own interests and have aspirations. As her dad… I want to foster those dreams, instead of “giving her a good dose of reality”… I want to encourage her to pursue and become better… not force her into my idea of what her interests should be.
When I see a dream start to become important enough that one of my children begins to pursue it, I want to learn everything I can and dive right in with them… become their chief advocate to better their chance at success.
When it comes to raising children, I see myself as a bumper in a bowling lane. You know… the guards that keep me from amateurly lobbing every single ball into the gutter? Sure, laugh all you want…but I’ll bet my bumper game against your non-bumper game any day (no really… okay, I’m joking).
Once a goal is established… I see my job as being to guide their efforts toward their intended target and do everything possible to hit a strike. Sure… corrections and redirection will have to take place (sometimes more sharply than at others), but it is for the purpose of hitting the pins.
If one of them wants to do music… I’ll learn everything I can and jump into the industry and do everything to help them succeed… if one wants to be a fireman, policeman, attorney, doctor, etc… I will learn everything I can and place them in an environment that will foster success… and yes, EVEN if one of them wants for some reason unknown to mankind to be involved in sports (sigh), I’ll gladly help.
Our view of parenting has become so distorted. Instead of seeing children as a continuation of our lives/legacy… many parents tend to see children as an obstacle to hurdle in fulfilling their own selfish desires. Instead, we’re much too busy being busy and accomplishing nothing to be good parents.
With many fathers it’s as if their children are the student in the back of the class jumping up and down enthusiastically with his hand up trying to get his teacher’s attention… but to no avail.
Will I be the type of father who occasionally pats my son/daughter on the head and condescendingly says “Good job” or the kind who gets involved? Think of all that could be accomplished.
No, your children shouldn’t be your entire life… but, where will they go if YOU don’t help them succeed?
If I, being a faulty person, want this badly for my children to succeed… I can’t imagine how God, the perfect Father, feels.