Kids & Parenting
Dad, Where Are You?
by Mark Bradley
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Dad, Where Are You?
In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. He created the animals, the fish, and the fowl. (Those are birds) He then created Man and Woman, giving them dominion and telling them to go out and make more humans. This they did, and the place of the parent was created. Weíre going to take a few minutes to discuss the dad. Mom, catch me next May.
The Father has long been the leader of his family. Iím not just talking about the ďfamiliaí either. Iím talking about husband and wife and the 2.3 kids. (How do you get an average with a decimal?) It has been his domain to be the breadwinner, the protector, and the rod of discipline. These qualities are still sought after in the mate selection process. However, over the last fifteen years or so, there has been a shift. The woman has taken a greater role in bringing home the bacon, to the point of being the sole earner in the family. I know, because I have been caught up in that shift.
Now, before you start with those nasty conclusions, let me outline what happened in my family. I have worked for the seventh largest architectural firm in the world, and the third in this country. I have played a role in designing buildings in three different countries. I was well paid and fairly well respected in my field. I could not even come close to the benefits package that my wife gets from her company. Granted, she works for a major insurance company, but still. It baffles me that this could take place. So, I decided to work from home, stop paying daycare, stop letting the public misinformation source uneducated my children, keep my kids at home where there are no bomb threats, and charge twenty-five dollars an hour for my services. A good gig, if you can get it.
Now, though my moneymaking responsibilities are not as pressing, I have taken on a greater role in the raising and educating of my children. I have undertaken the job of Father, Teacher, and Disciplinarian. I know that there are men out there who think I am crazy for accepting this role, but I must say that I get to see what you guys only hear about. This has created a whole new world of opportunities to teach and guide my children.
Enough about me. Letís talk about you. We live in a go all out society. The pace is fast and time driven. The successful people of this world are schedule Ėkeeping sprinters that all want to retire before thirty-five. Starting a family is never on the front burner. They simply do not think they have time to devote to family and job. The ones that marry out of college and see their spouse on the weekends are the life-blood of modern business.
Well, I am going to tell you something that you are not going to like. If you are letting your day planner tell you when it will be time to start having children, you are going to miss your appointment. I am all for planned parenthood. I think that the two of you should sit down and talk about the prospects of starting a litter. I think that you should prepare for the time when you are going to be with child. I do not think that you should try to pencil in a family between meetings and two-month business trips.
Being a dad is more than just siring an offspring. Thatís being a father, and any pencil-neck can do that. Being a dad is a sacred and honored position that requires you adjust your priorities. You have a family, and being the main earner is only part of the job. Your family needs you, dad. They need you to lead them in a Godly manner. They need you to be the one that takes a stand and shows everyone else where that stand will be. They need a role model to take to their next step of relationships. Most importantly, they need you to be there more than once in awhile. You need to be a consistent force in the lives of your children.
Iím not saying that you should drop everything and start coaching little league. But it might not be a bad idea if you show up to the game. You donít have to get your kids everything they ever wanted. You might want to think about being the one that gives them the gift, and not leaving it up to mom all the time. There will be events in your kidsí lives that you will miss, and there is nothing you can do about it. Let me ask you this; do your kids understand the occasional miss, or do they already know that youíre not coming?
Be there, as often as you can. It really wonít hurt, I promise. You might even get to like it. You may have heard this, you may not. Sooner than you think, they will be gone. Iím facing that grim perspective right now. My oldest is about four years from going to college. Those four years are going to fly right on by, and then she will be on her own. Iím not afraid that she will be ill prepared. Iím going to miss her. It wonít be long before that smiling face comes to me and says that she has met a wonderful guy and she wants me to meet him. I hope heís not afraid of guns, at least while theyíre pointing at him.
Letís see how many of you are doing your homework. Can anyone tell me what the leading cause of crime in this country is? No, not violent television. No, not drugs and alcohol. No, not teenage sex. Itís single parent homes and broken families. Iím not making this up. You look at the growing rate of crime in this country and the growing rate of divorce, separation, and dads just leaving, and I guarantee you will find a correlation. Why? Easy. There is no leader in the house. The mom is often (not all of them, just some) not equipped to lead the family. They are, in most cases, far too forgiving to discipline the children. What then happens is a child that lacks a respect for authority because he has not been taught to do so. Well, who is supposed to provide these children with that guidance? Yep, the dad.
Families that are two-parent homes stand a much better chance of not getting a call at three in the morning from the police station to tell you that your son or daughter has been arrested or killed doing something that they were not supposed to do. These children have a healthy fear of their father. Not just from a punishment angle, but from a disappointment one. These kids know that disappointing their father is one of the greatest sins that can be committed. They understand that, yes, there will be a consequence for their actions. At the same time, they know that they will have disgraced their father, and that will keep them in line far more than any punishment.
Now, before you go off half-cocked, I want to clarify punishment. The first one of you that I find that beats your kid into submission, I will come over to your house and drop you like third period Spanish class. One the three cardinal sins is beating a child. DO NOT DO IT. However, if your child is having one of those days where they simply do not think you are the leader of the pack, then a swift swat to the seat of education is fine. I said one, no more than two, and never done while you are angry. NEVER. Punishment is not for you to release your anger. Punishment is to show that for every infraction, there is a consequence that will follow. Without that deterrent, there will be no respect, no reform, and no reason to stop.
Let me put it to you like this. There is a sign that says you can only drive fifty-five miles per hour on a certain road. One day, you drive down that road doing about eighty. You pass a cop sitting on the side on the road running radar, and he lets you go. How likely are you to ever drive down that road doing the speed limit again? Answer, none. Why would you stop if you were not going to get the ticket? You want to stop bad behavior; you must make it worth something in your kidís eyes. If it means nothing, then they will never stop.
Okay dad, are you ready to tackle your mission? You are the one that will be in charge of turning these barely formed creatures into full self-sufficient adults that will not only be productive in this society, but will also carry on the value system that you hold. Make sure that your value system is worth passing on, by the way. Donít pass on the family secret to getting free popcorn at the movies. Maybe teach them that going to church and spending time alone with God is a priority in your life. Believe me, I used to have a hit or miss prayer life and devotional time. That is, till I saw my dad reading his bible at the kitchen counter. That made the biggest impression on me. Remember, they are going to copy you. Make sure the copy is worth saving.
Mark A. Bradley
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