Men are vital to their family’s wellbeing and the health of our communities. On this Father’s Day, don’t forget that you matter to your children, their mother, your community and our nation.
On our way to Wal-Mart one day many years ago, my daughter, then four years old, asked me out of nowhere if I would “beat up” anyone who tried to mess with her.
“Of course, sweety,” I said confidently, as any Dad worth their salt would. “No matter how big they were, I’d make sure you were OK.”
She smiled and moved on to tell me what she wanted to see in the toy aisle.
We parked, made our way inside, and I put her in the shopping cart. She has always been keenly aware of her surroundings, but on this day I could tell she was even more so.
As we meandered through the aisles, I paused and squatted down to get some shampoo from the bottom shelf. When I stood up, I noticed a man who looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime calmly perusing the hair products just down from us. The man had a kindly disposition despite his imposing frame. He towered over me, and I’m over six feet tall. He obviously spent a lot of time at the gym, as his arms were about the size of my head, which isn’t small by any means, mind you.
My daughter and I began to move past the gentleman, and she noticed his awesome stature as well. Her eyes got really big and she stared at the hulk of a man.
I saw her face tense up and with a loud, commanding voice she declared, “If you mess with me, my Dad will beat you up. Won’t you, Dad?”
I looked at her with a calm reassurance and nod of the head, but I quickly turned and smiled at the man, gave a wink, and hurriedly moved on down the aisle more than a little embarrassed.
Truth is, had he tried to mess with her, I would have fought like Hades to defend her and make sure she was well. Although, I’m quite certain I would have been worse for the wear. Yet, that wasn’t the point, is it?
In her mind, my daughter needed to know that her Dad was willing to protect her from whatever threatened her. She needed the reassurance that her Dad had her best interest at heart, and that no matter how big the person or challenge was in front of her, she could rely on her Dad to be there and take care of her.
On this Father’s Day, here are five things us men should remember if we are to be the Dads we are called to be:
Love and Obey God
Be a man of integrity who desires to serve our Heavenly Father. Let your children see you pray. Lead them in discussions about faith and God’s grace.
Let your children see you stand up for what’s sacred and morally right. Let them see you read the Bible, debate the intricacies of scripture, and talk to others about Christ and what He’s doing in your life.
Let your children know you love God and seek to live out your faith in this world, that you are not ashamed to be a child of the Almighty.
Love and Respect your child’s Mother
Be a man that honors the role their mother plays in their life and in yours. Understand that you aren’t always right and that it’s OK to admit when you’re wrong. Show your children that even when you disagree with their mother – whether you are married or divorced – that you recognize her importance.
Show her love and respect in how you talk to her and how you talk about her, both in public and in private. Respond with care.
Your children learn how to interact with their future mates from watching and listening to how you interact with their mother. You want to see how your son will treat his spouse? How do you treat yours? You want to see how your daughter will love her husband? How do you love her mom?
Love and Discipline your Child
Be a man who isn’t afraid of affection. Let your child see how much they mean to you. Our Savior wept and bled for us. It’s OK to let our children see us cry, to allow them to know that we love them so much that we can be vulnerable around them.
Let them see your pain and struggles. Be real and in that reality teach them how to handle life when things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Never put off your responsibility to correct them, to discipline them. Too many parents today shirk their duty to discipline in love, coddling their children to the detriment of themselves and society as a whole.
Expect your child to be a self-controlled member of your family who has a role to play in your home and they will be a good, contributing member of society when they grow up and face the world on their own.
Get in the Game – Be Involved
Be a man who is more than just a father, more than just someone who helped conceive a child. Be a Dad!
Get off the couch. No matter how bad your day was or how tired you are, be involved in your child’s life. Children see and feel your love for them in how much time you invest in them.
Coach their team or at least be in the stands cheering them on. Visit their school for lunch. Go on field trips. Ask about their day and check their homework. Read them stories, play video games with them, take them to the store with you. Tuck them in at night, give them a kiss, hug them and hold them tightly.
Be a Man – Be a Dad
Men are vital to their family’s wellbeing and the health of our communities. Be strong and courageous.
Take a stand in our world. Take the criticism and the persecution that comes with being a man who stands on principle, who speaks up and stands firm. Teach your children how to hold to their values and beliefs, how to handle the critics and the pressure of being ridiculed and disliked. Show your children that what matters most is God’s opinion of them, not the world’s. Let them see you stand up for something and make a difference, even if it costs you.
Let your children know that you are there no matter what, that your love for them and your willingness to support them is unyielding – even if it means the Hulk on aisle 3 pummels you into a million pieces or just has a good laugh at your expense.
Never forget that you matter to your children, their mother, your community and our nation. Happy Father’s Day!