I think I have been reflecting for a number of years now on what it means to be a dad while at the same time working through some of my struggles associated with my own dad. It wasn’t that we didn’t get along it was more that he didn’t really do ‘dad type’ things with me! So as I spend time with my joy-filled boy I find myself lamenting on what I did not have for myself, and maybe unhelpfully, trying to raise my own son in a completely different way to the way I was raised.
Because of my calling to youth and children’s ministry I have found myself reflecting on this topic to be around the idea of how we are shaped as dads and then how that shapes how we raise our sons. Because my dad grew up in the war and no doubt his dad was a very strict and ‘cold’ character, that shaped part of who he was. So my dad was also shaped by his relationship with his father. What I am getting at is I truly believe that dads of my generation need to get together, support one another and take some time to consider what it means to be a dad and to be raising sons. I can’t blame my dad really as this was the environment he grew up in but I do want to consider how I raise my own son with maybe less of the struggles that I experienced, and still do!
I think together there are a few obvious things it would be helpful to work through as a group of dads and sons; how do we express ourselves emotionally that isn’t just anger? How do we listen more rather than automatically wanting to fix things? How do we help our sons to see girls as unique, precious and beautiful daughters of God, and then treat them accordingly? As dads, how do we work through, even during our 40’s, some of the things we still hold onto from the relationships with own dads? So this is where I am at and I find myself inspired by my good friend Rachel Gardner who has invested a stunning amount of time and energy in helping girls to see themselves as fierce, gifted and truly & deeply beautiful women.
So today I am beginning this conversation and journey and I would really like some company. I have no doubt we will come across some difficult subjects and will need to be courageous and honest with one another. But surely that is itself a great thing to model to our sons; courage, honesty and accountability. Sometime later this year I would like to get some dads together and begin this journey properly, and hopefully also take some time together with our sons. This is important, it is vital, it is essential that we raise our sons to seek wholeness. If we show our own pursuit of wholeness then surely that will be a great starting point and example to our sons.
Psalm 127:3-5: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court”
I feel so utterly, utterly blessed to be a dad, as hard as some days are it brings me a huge amount of joy. I was at a point where I didn’t even think I’d get married let alone be a dad. God has been so good and so I must treat this gift accordingly, like the Psalmist says; my son is a gift, a gift from God himself. But as with any precious gift it must be protected.
I love being a dad, I find being a son really hard! For too long I have not taken time to work through this but for my own sons future and growth, I must!