Andrew told me last week: "I am ready to start working with you Dad, but I need you to teach me to count by twelves." I have a hard time disputing that this is really one of the most necessary skills with some of the work I do. This exchange helped me to look again at my role as a father. In a society that no longer passes on trades and professions from one generation to the next, how will I prepare my son? It isn't a given that Andrew is going to grow up and do the work I do. However, Andrew is going to grow up and it is likely that he will become the man I am. The truth is that if I want Andrew to grow up and be like me at work I have to teach him how to count by twelves - but more importantly, if I want Andrew to grow up to be the man I am (or better) I need to teach him what I know about this too.
Chances are good Andrew isn't going to grow up and do merchandise work selling t-shirts, maybe though. There is a great chance that he will grow up, be married, have kids, interact with people who have needs, have in-laws, face hard times, experience abundance, question his faith, and a slew of other normal things am American man faces. Andrew said it best, "I need you to teach me". As a father I need to teach my son how to be, if I don't - society will. I do this mostly by modeling behavior.
Television has done a great job of devaluing the role of father. Fathers like Al Bundy and Ray Ramono have shown us how dads are the butt of the joke and fail as leaders in their household. I know that these shows are funny. I laugh at them all the time, but if this was real life - I would cry knowing that this is the model these kids have to grow up with. Television has given us some good dads too. Cliff Huxtable, Mike Brady and Andy Taylor - what wonderful pictures of fathers fathering.
Dads, if we don't step up and father - the television will. The truth is that most fathers are not like the negative ones on television. Most fathers don't come home from work, kick back the recliner and drink a sixer till they fall asleep only to wake up and make negative sarcastic remarks at their wife and kids. Most fathers aren't doing overtly negative things, but are we doing overtly positive things?
My wife would agree; the best thing God did in my life was give me Andrew. Andrew changed the whole game for me. Becoming a father shaped me in a way that nothing else has or could have. Andrew helped make me a better husband; a better man. On Father's Day I always find myself remembering and comparing who I was before fatherhood to who I have become through it. I am so thankful that God did this. I love being a father because I know the value it has added to my life. The change in me was truly unbelievable.
Although I have been blessed through this, my job now is to pass on this blessing to my kids. I need to teach them how to be, what to be, where to be, why they should be, and even who to be. I feel like I have the responsibility to train my kids up in the way I want them to go. I want Andrew to love his wife, understand the value of work, enjoy work, give to those that are in need, make known the love of God through Jesus. I want him to do the right thing, always tell the truth and love people. This is the way I want him to go - so now I need to work a plan to train him in it.
Happy Father's Day and good luck!
What is the way you want your kids to go?
Are there trades or skills you could pass on to your children?
What aspects of faith and spirituality do you want your kids to embrace?