Know your Children

When I was a child, like most children, I thought my father could do anything.  He and my oldest brother, Tim, took a very old house and made it a home for all eight of us brothers and sisters and my Mother.  They built the most massive rock fireplace that stretched from the living room floor past the second story above the roof  higher than I could reach even as a young teen.  He fixed pipes under the house, he worked on the evaporative cooler, he built bunk beds for us to sleep on, he could do anything.

As an adult now I look back on this incredible man and I realize I really didn’t know him.  I wanted to, I tried to, but he was a quiet man with few words for anyone.  He taught me a great deal with his actions and with his values, and for these I will be forever grateful, but he didn’t communicate much with his words.

I don’t think our children today are that much different than I was as a child.  Our children want to know us; they want to know all about us.  They want to understand how we got to be who we are today, both good and bad.  They take from us clues on how to react in certain circumstances; they watch us closely for any sign of weakness and learn how we deal with it.  They learn how to act, think, love, react, evade, discipline, and how to have faith.

This whole process is extremely important to the healthy growth and development of all our children, both sons and daughters.  If this process is not carried out in a healthy, not necessarily perfect, way we establish in our children unrealistic standards.  These standards, whether real or perceived, can’t be met and set up a lifetime of dissatisfaction, regret and fear. 

I don’t want to create a bunch of paranoid fathers who are now afraid to take any action or, worse yet, a bunch of fathers who are trying to be the perfect example of a father.  Children need to know their earthly father is fallible.  They need to know he can and will make mistakes.  It’s what he does with those mistakes that are the deciding factor between healthy well adjusted adults and those who are impossible to satisfy.

We need to learn to look at ourselves and our actions the way God looks at us.  He sees our potential, he sees our heart and he sees our struggles.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He doesn’t expect us to be perfect.  He only expects us to understand that he is there to help us through our struggles.  He gives us the opportunity to handle our struggles with grace and peace.

Inside we are at war.  Our mind is constantly in a war with God.  Our mind wants to be constantly in control.  Don’t believe me?  Try and clear your mind and think of nothing for a full five minutes. 

Ultimately our struggle is with ourselves.  Colossians 3:3 says “For [as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God”.  In other words; my life is hidden with Him in Christ!  Here is the answer to our problem.  No problem is too big for God because he knows our innermost struggles and He is there to help us deal with them.

Our children are watching and learning from our actions as we deal with our inner struggles.  We are a lot more transparent than we think.  A five year old can see right through our outer defenses because, like God, they look directly into our heart.  They see our struggles and they know if we are at peace with the fact that God will help us through it.  If we look at others the way a five year old looks at us, we will soon begin to “know him no longer [in terms of the flesh]” (II Corinthians 5:16), we know others by the spirit.  Then we can begin to understand the fullness of God’s love for us.

Understanding God’s love for us releases in our children the freedom to live in peace and not in fear.  No matter how we paint it fear is the root of every problem we have and fear is begun, or defeated, by watching our fathers in everyday life.

En servicio como padre



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