Despite what modern culture espouses, fathers are an equal part in the raising of a child. Many men just see themselves as providing the money for the family and erroneously think that mums are better qualified to nurture children. The truly biblical father will build a relationship with his children. It is not an argument of quality time vs quantity time but the strength of the relationship between father and child. It is vitally important for a parent to build a trusting relationship. Failure to build trust encourages a child to find his identity with his peers and adopt their values rather than the family values.
All children are born with an inherent trust of their parents but as they grow they trade this unquestioned trust with one based on their experience of their parents. There is never a time to become lax and assume our credibility does not matter – it always matters. It is extremely important to communicate to our children that we are not only interested in what they do, but also in who they are.
Building a trusting relationship takes time and effort and parents have to earn trust. Both parents need to ensure that their children have no reason to doubt them. We need to be worthy of their trust and they need to know that no matter how fearful life becomes mum AND dad will be there to love, accept, help and guide. You cannot be connected to a child who does not trust you, and connectedness is extremely important, as through the family relationship a child develops the right understanding about the meaning of life and understands that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Mothers make boys but fathers make men. A boy especially needs to see his father as confident, self assured and decisive. He also needs him to be supportive, caring and sensitive. Children naturally yearn for their father's affection and approval. They do not question their mother's love but can feel a father's love needs to be earned.
As you think about your role as a father, consider how much trust plays in the relationship with your children. Over the next couple of weeks we will explore eight relationship-building ideas to help you develop trusting relationships with your children.
The father must cultivate attitudes that lead to a strong sense of family identity. Family identity is the mutual acceptance of who we are as a family. This is based on trust, acceptance and loyalty to each other.
Peer pressure is only as strong as family identity is weak. The father is the team leader. He needs to build loyalty and trust in the family. He needs to express how much he loves the family, how proud he is of the family and how important all the members are to each other. If dad is excited and encouraged about the family, the children will feel the same way.
A Christ centred family identity encourages godly devotion to each other.
Think about having family nights. Assign each of your children a week each month to plan a family night activity. Spending time as a family is extremely important and means more than just doing the readings together or watching a DVD and eating popcorn. *
*Resources: ‘Simply Fun For Families’ by Gwen Ellis and ‘Homespun Memories From The Heart’ by Ehman, Hovermale and Smith
Have you ever thought that your children learn about trust and relationship from watching your marriage relationship? You are being watched closely by discerning eyes.
Children thrive on the demonstration of love between the parents. They need to feel confident that Dad is very much in love with Mum.
This loving relationship builds security for the children and is a good role model for them on which to build their own families in later life.
How much trust can a child have in a father who does not show love, patience, kindness etc to his wife?
The greatest gift you can give to your children is for the parents to love each other.
If you want to know what is going on for your child you need to know what is going on in their inner private world.
We all have a public, personal and a private world.
Our public world helps us keep a safe distance from others.
Our personal world is more relaxed and we can spend time with family and friends.
Our private world is the most secret world of all in which we keep our personal thoughts, hopeful wishes and big dreams.
No-one can visit our private world without an invitation.
Fathers need to be particularly sensitive to this private world and wait for an invitation. If they are invited in they must listen with their hearts as well as their heads. Do not go in and try to rearrange this world.
If you can prove your trustworthiness in the vulnerable moments of a child's early life then your children are more likely to come to you in later years when they are facing life's challenges.
Children will invite you into their private world if they feel they can trust you. A father can establish a trusting relationship in the secret places of a child’s heart but he can also destroy it there as well. That is why it is so important to respect your child’s private world.
A father’s wrong attitude to failure can prevent his children from reaching their full potential. Children need to know that you view their failures as a first step to success.
Reassure your child that failure is acceptable as long as they made an honest effort.
Teach the child that they can learn through failure and to see it as an opportunity for improvement. There can be secret blessings in failure.
They need to be assured that neither failure nor success is the basis of your relationship with them. Share stories of your failure, failure in the Bible and subsequent growth.
A father’s wrong attitude to failure can prevent his children from reaching their full potential.
A child will hold back for fear of failure and incurring the father’s disappointment or lectures.
The child will make the status quo the standard rather than strive to develop the full range of abilities given them by the Lord.
You will destroy trust by being negative or sarcastic. Encouragement and guidance will build a relationship and help a child develop their full potential.
Your child wants you to be pleased with and proud of them. Fear of failure is really the fear of failing someone. Do not make that someone you.
“Resist the urge to lecture when your child fails or makes a mistake. They will only turn ‘deaf ears’ to you. Listen to your child share what happened and ask questions to guide them to the lessons that need to be learned from the experience”. (Carla and Joey Link, “ Training Elementary school Children”)
An occasional word of encouragement does not make an encouraging father. Real encouragement is your smile, expression, and presence. Encouragement builds trust.
How often do you wish you had a letter or card written by your father? The older the child, the more he or she needs to hear from dad in writing. Words go where dads cannot always be.
Fathers should write or sign birthday and Christmas cards.
Write a note of encouragement to your child.
Even if the child cannot yet read, put a picture or note into the school lunch box or on their pillow.
Encouragement is never redundant. It can be communicated by word and action.
Take your child’s need for encouragement seriously.
Children will face many disappointments as they are growing up. Through hindsight parents know that everything will be OK but children do not yet have that experience.
What may seem trivial to you may appear insurmountable to your child.
Seize the opportunity to encourage your children through their difficulties by sharing your wisdom and experience.
Children need encouragement to thrive.
When your child comes to you to share a moment of excitement, respond to the joy rather than the situation. (See the wriggly worm rather than the handful of dirt dripping onto the carpet!)
Do not steal these special moments from your children by not rejoicing with them, otherwise they will stop sharing their life with you.
When a child excitedly shares their dreams or ideas do not rush to protect your child from disappointment or make an analytical assessment of their career aspirations and therefore take the joy out of their hearts and faces.
Guard your tongue and your tone and learn to measure your response against the excitement on your child’s face.
Dads, enter into your child’s sense of excitement.
Children must know that their father loves them.
Words of encouragement are only part of showing love. A gentle touch, tender hug, pat on the back and a goodnight kiss at any age all communicate love to the child.
A child is never too old for a father's touch. Holding your child meets a special emotional need.
Fathers who fail to communicate through touch leave behind yearning hearts that can be filled by anyone willing to give attention. Often it is by the wrong person. Daughters will look for love and attention from other males if they do not have their father's love.
For boys, a routine hug and embrace confirms a son’s sense of masculine identity. Grandfathers and uncles can also aid the process.
Mum’s arms are comforting, dad’s arms are secure.
Neither time, age, nor gender should limit a father’s touch.
“A hug offers no energy consumption and returns a high energy yield, while being inflation-proof, non-taxable, non-polluting, non-fattening, theft-proof and fully returnable. There are no batteries required, it contains no pesticide, preservatives or artificial ingredients. It is organic and naturally sweet.”
(Let’s Hug [Bayside NY] Once upon a Planet 1981)
Trust starts and ends with God. Between those two points is the family. By building trust with his children, a father is helping his children recognise and enjoy the blessings of God.
A father must rightly reflect the truth of God. Children will believe whatever their father says, so the father must teach what is right and be trustworthy.
You can show your children what God is like by your actions and words. Parenting is a discipleship relationship. Mentor your children in God's word of truth.
A father must not think in terms of time but in terms of relationships.
Think relationships – trusting relationships.
Read and teach the Word of God to your children.
Bring the LORD a sacrifice of prayer with and for your family.
Take the spiritual leadership of your home.
We hope you have enjoyed the series, The Father's Mandate.
We are finishing this series with a love letter from the father of us all, our Heavenly Father.
You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.
I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
I am familiar with all your ways.
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
For you were made in my image.
In me you live and move and have your being.
For you are my offspring.
I knew you even before you were conceived.
I chose you when I planned creation.
You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.
I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
I knit you together in your mother's womb.
And brought you forth on the day you were born.
I have been misrepresented
by those who don't know me.
I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.
1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.
1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
For I am the perfect father.
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Because I love you with an everlasting love.
My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.
And I rejoice over you with singing.
I will never stop doing good to you.
For you are my treasured possession.
I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.
And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.
Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.
For it is I who gave you those desires.
I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.
For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.
As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.
One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.
And I'll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.
I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
He is the exact representation of my being.
He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.
1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.
1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.
I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.
My question is…
Will you be my child?
I am waiting for you.
Love, Your Dad
Father's Love Letter used by permission
Father Heart Communications ©1999 FathersLoveLetter.com