To Fathers – Here are 5 Pieces of Advice for You
Understand that this is advice is not expressively Scriptural. This comes from advice passed down, reasoning, and experience as both a father and a child.
1. Who you are to your children is as God is to you.
Everything that God has given to us in this world which is destined to one day fade away has been given to be the earthly representation of a heavenly reality. For instance, marriage was first instituted with Adam and Eve, with the woman being created as a helpmeet for her husband because it was not good that Adam should be alone (Gen. 2:18). Thus, Eve was created from the very rib of the man to support him as the head of his family. Most egalitarian Christians squeal in protest at that kind of statement, but that is because they have never known, or perhaps forgotten, the heavenly marriage that is the substance that the shadow of the earthly marriage merely represents. If the woman in a marriage can usurp her husband’s God-given authority or “wear the pants of the relationship,” as it were, then the couple is essentially saying that the Church is of equal or more authority than her Husband and Lord, Christ Jesus.
Likewise, fathers, how you represent your authority over your children will have long-term effects on their understanding of Who God is to them as Father. Is the Father vengeful, impatient, annoyed, or dismissive towards His children? Or is God loving towards His children, disciplining and pruning them so that they become fruitful sons worthy of their inheritance? This also requires an understanding of Who He is to you. If you know Who He is, then you know who you ought to be.
2. Do not allow your children to follow their hearts. Instead, teach them to rule over it.
I usually get the most heat for this advice, and usually it comes from the majority of Christian church-attendees whose biblical worldview is influenced in some way by new age and postmodern thinking. But the bible says that the heart is deceitful above all else (Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21-22). It’s important to note that the bible refers to the heart as the central part of a man’s being; who he is at the core. Teachers, such as John Eldredge, teach that this is true only for the non-believer. While it is true that God puts a new heart into the believer and he is made a new creature, the old heart and nature are not eradicated. In fact, Jesus, Himself, said that it is the heart which is the source of evil (Mark 7:20-23, c.f. Acts 5:3, James 1:26); Paul said that the old nature and the propensity for evil is still very much present in the Christian’s life (Rom. 7:18, c.f. Heb. 3:12). We are charged with carefully testing everything because of the very real dangers which threaten us (Acts 17:11, 2 Cor. 11:1-4, 1 John 4:1).
Your children are in just as much danger of their hearts being deceived as you are. In some cases, they are more susceptible, and in other cases, you are more susceptible. For instance, they have not undergone the experiences – the sacrifices or hurt – that you may have experienced, and so they may be less burdened and more receptible to truth (which is why it is important to train your children right at the earliest age possible). On the other hand, you’ll find your children’s receptibility often training you and challenging you to look at thing objectively, rather than through the lenses of your experience.
Discipling your child to test his/her heart teaches them to value their heart, and the not the things their heart seems to value which are destined to fade. Train them to see the kingdom of God, which is eternal, so that when they become older, they will not be so seduced by the world’s ever-wavering whims.
3. Give your child freedom to express themselves – to think for themselves.
I worded this correctly, but I fears that presuppositional interpretation will be so immediate that some will skip this explanation, altogether. But if you’re reading this, understand that I do not mean that you should not set boundaries with your child. Quite the contrary. The freedom is in the boundaries.
For instance, if I want my child to clean her room and she is refusing, then I give her a clear choice ending in a question mark: “Do you want to clean your room now, or would you rather clean your room after a spanking?” Or, “Would you like to eat your dinner now, or would you like to go to bed and eat it for breakfast?” (And you’ll have to make good on your end of the bargain. Remember to make them eat it for breakfast.) In doing so, you show them that you are still the authority, and that they will eventually obey; it just depends on how much pain and suffering they want to go through before they do (much like Jonah). Remember that the goal of parenting is to raise Godly children who respect authority and will obey God in whatever He tells them to do. You aren’t training robotic servants – you’re training obedient heirs to the kingdom.
The choice requires them to think about their choices and the consequences of their actions. Do not allow them to change the rules of the game, either. They can’t do that in real life. You either speed and get a ticket, or you follow the law and keep your money. Once the rules are set, remain consistent.
4. Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.
This is, perhaps, the most vital of behaviors you must exhibit. And this is not exclusive to your relationship with your children, but in your day-to-day activities as well. Consistency breeds trustworthiness that is highly valuable. Integrity of heart and intellectual integrity requires that you remain objective and impartial, even in (or especially in) your faith in Christ. Is your faith predicated on an emotional response you had or have towards what you believe to be God, or is your faith succeeded by the evidence of the truth as found in the gospel?
Your children will do what you do far more than do what you say. As I said before, parenting is as much a trial of development for them as it is for you, and it was intelligently designed that way. Do you read your bible? Do you pray regularly? How are your eating habits? What do you do on your free time? What do you talk about most? These are the things they will attempt to imitate the most. IF you are focused on the kingdom, keeping your eyes on the things above, then this will begin to come easy for you, and you won’t have to worry about what your children see. In fact, this particular piece of advice can be more for you to you than for you to your children. If you have the tree planted correctly, you won’t have to worry what fruit is produced.
One of the things we decided to do early on was to give them the truth about the human condition – that we are evil and enemies of God. And we proved to them by asking them if they do anything wrong. They understood at an early age that they, like their parents, are evil at the core, and the only thing which sets us apart from the rest of the evil world is Christ who dwells within those who believe and follow. Think about it. We usually tell our children that they are good and we don’t want to think about the fact that their sin separates them from God just as ours does. It’s altogether contradictory when they become older (usually in their teen years when we can’t stand them) that we finally tell them the truth about sin and the what it does to their nature. They must dismiss or unlearn what you taught them as children. In fact, this may be one of the questions they have about the Faith, and one of the factoring reasons why the question of evil is still the most asked questions by both believers and nonbelievers alike. So, we decided early on, at the hearty disapproval of both of our families, to immediately show our daughters that they were evil from the moment they sinned. And we included ourselves in that conversation. And the genuine joy the spreads across our faces when we tell them that it is Christ Who is the difference teaches them early on that they cannot rely on themselves. We begin to teach true love and the reason for our existence before they have a chance to grab ahold of a lie more enticing and self-gratifying.
The point is that consistency is of utmost importance when raising your children. They will either hail you as a mentor of the Faith, or as a hypocrite. They will ultimately witness your flaws. You intellectual and spiritual integrity will require you to admit them to your children openly without triggering a defense, accept for the defense that Jesus already provided you on the cross. You will be forced to rely on him, as you want them to do as well. I guarantee that this will improve your relationship, for those who have not been consistent up to this point, and you will become a trustworthy advocate for their souls.
5. Invest time into your children individually and adequately.
Contrary to what is being pushed on the political net, girls and boys are different. How you behave or talk in front of them, what movies you watch, what books you read, what motivates you in your relationships will all contribute to your children’s overall desires for a spouse. Assume that how you treat your wife is how your sons will treat their wives and what kind of man your daughters will seek. If you oversexualize your wife, then chances are your daughters will care more about how they look and how they present themselves, while your sons will imitate that same lack of respect for women they like.
Invest what time you have into the family as a whole, but pay special attention to each child. Even among girls, or among boys, there will be difference between individuals. One may be strongly empathetic; a good quality with the danger of becoming overly emotion and unreasonable. One may be intelligent and quick-witted; also, a good quality with the danger of becoming self-important, pride-filled, and elitist. Each quality, we must assume, that God designed (nature), they learned from observing (nurture), and they chose in order show their individuality (free will). Don’t reject their qualities – only the dangers that can come of them. As with anything God created, it can be perverted. An overly emotional girl can internalize her emotions and eventually come to reason emotionally at all times, perhaps because that quality was never validated in her. This is, for me, the hardest quality to validate because I am not naturally an emotional person. I am a logician. I’ve had to learn to value the empathetic quality in one of my daughters, and posit that if I did not she would feel rejected by her father. That is because she doesn’t merely exhibit empathy – that is a characteristic of who she is. And there is great value in one who can empathize with another’s pain. And so together, we work on her thinking skills, while not invalidating her empathetic spirit, so that she will know better how to utilize that gift and not use it for self-gain.
Understand your child’s gifting and personal nature. No quality is good or evil, except that it is good because God designed it. It is otherwise, amoral. What one does with the quality is what makes it good or evil. It can either be used as save a life or extinguish one. You are charged with teaching them how to use their gift rightly, which requires that you get to know your child.
Step up, dad, and take charge of your home. Raise your children to be the anathema of this world’s agenda for destruction; to be little windows of light from the kingdom of God.
 Eldredge, J. (2011). Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Mans Soul (pp. 133, 134, 144). Harpercollins Christian Pub