A Call To All Fathers!

Written By David Madsen

As a family lawyer of 20 years’ experience, as a husband and a father of two, as a volunteer in children’s work for nine years, I write this article to encourage fathers.

The role of parents is to love their children. It may be reduced to two essential (although multifaceted) tasks, namely to nurture and protect the whole child-body, mind and spirit.

Meeting your child’s need for protection is fairly self-evident, whereas nurturing your child is much more nuanced. An important aspect of nurture is in the area of imparting identity to your child. By identity I am referring to a healthy self-image and calling them forth out of childhood and into who and what they could be as an adult.

A father primarily imparts identity using his voice. This is so important it bears repeating. You have a voice, and your child needs to hear you say words of encouragement and affirmation like these “I love you; I’m so proud you are my son/ daughter; Have you thought about a career in…? I think you’d be great at that”.

Words like this carry weight and can live in a child’s heart for decades. Make your words healthy and life imparting.

David and his son.

A sense of identity (as your much-loved son or daughter) builds an innate resistance against high-risk activities like sex at a young age; dropping out of school; drug use and other crime. You will discover the battle for your child’s identity (who am I?) is both fierce and unrelenting. So let your voice be heard as a constant source of loving encouragement for your child.

As men it is an easy thing to become consumed with work because it satisfies many of our needs.

Our work can, if we are not careful, take us away from, or even replace our real family.This is something to be on guard against because it is subtle, after all working hard for your family is a good thing.

For myself, I had to learn to choose to switch off from work and switch on to family when I came home. When my children were young, I would open the door in the evening and call out, “Hello the best family in the world” and I deliberately made myself be present and engage with my family.

Families are precious things which can be easily damaged. Young children tend to be very forgiving, but as they grow older Super Dad will transform into Plain Old Dad so you must be very deliberate about keeping that relationship intact.

Here are three tips I found helpful.

Hold your children in your heart no matter what. By this I mean keep your heart warm, loving and open towards them. Don’t let your busyness or your offence at things they may have said, or their disappointing choices, take them out of your heart.Be humble enough to say sorry. There is more power to this point than you might
realise. Saying sorry for your mistakes and asking your child’s forgiveness for hurting or disappointing them is a very effective antidote against guilt and shame (twin evils which have separated and isolated many).Do your best to love your wife. Put that relationship as your number one priority. Make that relationship happy and loving, and you will find it creates a safe, positive environment in which to grow healthy kids.

I listened recently while some young people talked about what they thought a good father looks like. Do you know not one mentioned being perfect or always right?

Being there for them; believing in them; being an encourager, were the things that mattered most.

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