Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Redefining "Dad"

In my last post, I talked about the tremendous need we have in our society for dads. I believe this is an immensely important subject that needs much more attention, so I am going to continue with the same theme in this post. I do not at all feel like I am an expert, but I am a dad, and I recognize the void created in our society when dads are not truly dads. The media has grossly distorted the image of men in general, and it is hard to find a movie or a television show in which the father character behaves like a real man. Now, I realize these shows and movies are intended for entertainment, but the standards and ideas they are producing in real life is dangerous, and we cannot afford to allow Hollywood to define who a dad really is.

Many sitcoms today, including the ones being aimed at our children, make a mockery of parents, and especially of the dad. My daughter, Ava, and I were recently battling a stomach flu at the same time, so Nicole quarantined us in the same room. While we were trying to get better, I had the opportunity to watch several shows on the Disney Channel. I was appalled by much of what I saw. I honestly could not believe my eyes! Many of the shows feature a main star who is an adolescent or teenager, and their parents are being portrayed as out of touch idiots. They were merely on the show to get laughs. Later, Nicole and I watched some of the shows together, and we decided that our girls will not be watching much of what is popular - even if it is the Disney Channel. It will not do us any good to teach our children to be respectful of adults if we are going to allow them to watch television shows that undermine those same values. As I said in my last post, Andy Taylor and Cliff Huxtable are getting harder and harder to find on our television sets. With just a few exceptions, television is often anti-family.

Let me stop here and ask us parents a few questions. This is not to point the finger, but I want to be sure we are aware of what is going on in our kids' lives. Do you know who your kids' friends are? Do you know their friends' parents? What do your kids watch on TV? What sites do they visit online? Whom are they texting on their cell phones? Parents, if we don't know the answers to these questions, we are in danger of our kids slipping away from our guidance and protection. I know those are direct words, but the time has come for us all to face reality and become proactive in the leadership of our families. Dads, it starts with us. We have to be real men. We cannot allow the void that presently exists on so many levels to continue.

In many families, the dad is not present. It could be that he has left the home or never even lived in the home. It could also be that he is in the home but is never really there. Wherever either of these is the case, there is most likely a major void in the lives of our children. Dads, you have an extremely important role to play, and if you don't lead your home, someone else will. If you do not teach, instruct and guide your children, someone else will fill that void.

Some men are not comfortable hearing this, but, as your daughter grows, her self esteem and self image will be determined largely by the relationship she has with you. You might say "No, not me - that's her mother's job." Listen: it really doesn't work that way. Mothers obviously have a major role to play, as well, but your kids need both of you. Dads, your son's self confidence and outlook on his future will be shaped by his relationship with you. The kind of man your daughter will be attracted to and will likely marry when she is older will be the kind of man she sees in you. The way your son treats others, including his wife, when he is older will be because of the example you set. A young girl who grows up without an involved father will have the tendency to look for the acceptance that she needed from her dad in someone else. Many such girls grow up to pay a horrible price for that acceptance. A young man who lives in a home where the dad is not present will likely struggle to find his identity and truly be secure as a man.

Dads, that is the powerful, extremely important role we play. Now, I realize that there many children who grow up without fathers and they become secure, confident adults who marry great people and become awesome parents. The Lord is very gracious and merciful, and He can fill any void created by family issues or anything else in a child's life. However, when He created the family, He never intended for the father to be absent. If we were to poll a group of doctors, ministers, child psychologists, youth pastors, parents and children, they would confirm that what I have described is true in the majority of cases. That's why dads are so important. Our kids really do need us.

Who do you want your daughter to marry? Be that man. How do you want your son to treat his wife? Treat his mother that way. How do you want your daughter to see herself when she is 12 years old? Help her begin to see herself that way when she is 9 months old. How do you want your son to respond to pressure from his peers when he is 14? Begin telling him how you feel about those decisions long before he is 14. What do you want your kids' standards to be regarding sex before they are married? They need to hear it from you first.

Dads, we owe it to our kids to be real men. We cannot allow the media or any other aspect of society to define our role in the family, and we cannot trust them to raise our children. We have to be real dads who are there for our kids, dads who set boundaries for our kids and dads who teach our kids to love and forgive and dads who teach them Who God is. Dads, this is our responsibility, and we have to take it seriously and be proactive as we fulfill this role.

Let me close by talking to moms who are raising their children without the help of a dad, and to dads who have decided to be proactive and your kids are already middle school aged or older. First, to the moms: the Bible tells us in Psalm 68:5 that God is a Father to the fatherless. He is able to send the proper strong male influence into your kids' lives. Your children are not destined to a life of hardship because their dad isn't present. God's grace is sufficient for you, for your kids and for every situation they will face. Now, for the dads who are hearing the call to become more involved, there is no better time to start than now. Whether or not you feel like you have been there up to this point the way you would have liked to have been, start today being involved. You may have to apologize and allow some time for everyone to adjust, but the Lord can also make up the years that have been stolen. You still have a tremendous role to play, and your kids need you.

Dads, it's time to lead the way!

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