The past few days I've been thinking about my life as a dad since the Summer of 1998. I still remember holding my firstborn daughter in my arms and crying tears of joy. She's turning 16 next month, and I'm scared to death about her driving without her Mom or myself in the car. My prayer life's been struggling though, so I guess The Lord is trying to get me back on my knees, lol...
I've always wanted to be the best dad in the world, and there have been times when I've fooled myself into thinking that I was. It's funny how that we lower the perfect standard of Yahweh's law to meet whatever we are doing at any given time in our lives. Once it's lowered we begin to think we are a great person, in this case parent, when the reality is that we fail over and over and over again. It's not that I want to fail. I want to be the best dad. I would like to be able to say that I do my best to be the dad Yahweh wants me to be to my children. But I'd be lying to Yahweh and myself if I said that. So, I can only be thankful for the times I am able by grace to have "holy moments" as a dad to my 5 children. I confess I fail miserably often, and I cling to the Father for strength, and I trust in His Son as my perfect, sinless Savior.
What I've been pondering on are 3 things that I believe every parent needs to be told. I'm not some sort of parental guru, I'm just an ordinary guy who has been a parent for almost 16 years (my oldest is almost 16 and my others are 14, 12, 10, and 5). This ordinary fellow would like to share with you these 3 things in hopes of encouraging other parents in their current or future journey.
(1) You need to realize right now that you will make mistakes in parenting. Big ones. There are so many things that I would do differently if I was starting right now. Someone might ask me for a list of all of them, but I don't have enough cyber ink to spill my friend. I couldn't give you a list if I tried, and the list is not what's important. If you are a new or young parent, you are going to learn this like every other parent, in your own way. It's part of life. You will one day look back on your life as a dad or mom and say, "I wished I would have done this or that." Just know that you are human, and when you mess up, ask your children to forgive you. Repent to them, and get back up and start again. It's a process you'll have to repeat every day in some fashion.
(2) If I had to come up with one primary child training "point," it is this: spend as much time with your children as you can. I do not like it AT ALL when I hear dad's say "It's quality time that matters, not quantity." It makes me want to slap them silly back into reality, lol. The more time you spend with your children, the more they will know you love them. Have as much fun with them as possible. (We all spend our time and money on what we love the most, and your kids will know that as they get older. That paper trail never lies.) Teach them the Bible, play games with them, swim with them, go on vacation with them, homeschool them, talk to them, take them out for dinner or a movie, eat with them, joke around with them, tell them you love them and that you are thankful for them. They are Yahweh's blessing to you. Don't forget that.
(3) When you discipline your children, don't forget about the amount of grace and mercy Yahweh has shown and continues to show you as an adult. When our children blatantly disobey, we immediately want to lash out in anger. I've disciplined my kids in anger and I feel miserable after it's over. Send them to their room or even outside for a while and give yourself time to cool off. They need to be trained and disciplined, but it needs to because you are genuinely concerned for their well being. Think about all the times you fail your Heavenly Father, and then go back to Him again and ask for His forgiveness. Our children aren't angels, no matter how much we think they are. They are sinners, just like us, and they need the strong arm of the law, but they need the sweetness of the gospel as well. Remember Paul wrote to the Romans that it's the kindness of Yahweh that leads men to repentance.
Of course there's tons more, but this is all I've got for the past few days. Hope you don't mind me sharing my brain with you.
~ Matthew Janzen
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.