Since I first become a dad, I have become increasingly aware of the challenges we parents face in our modern society. Every generation has had its challenges, but we are living in a time that is very unique. I love technology, and I am thankful for the conveniences it has made available. We now have information on any subject at our finger tips, we can book a flight to the other side of the world in minutes, track the stock market minute to minute and most of us can do this from our cell phones! This is great, but there is a downside to all this, as well. Thanks to modern technology, we are bombarded with images and information constantly, and in many cases it can be harmful.
I love my girls more than anything, and I would do anything in the world to protect them. Nicole and I have spent many hours talking about schools, friends, peer pressure, the internet and all the things the girls will encounter. To be honest, the challenge to raise these little people in the midst of all of these can be overwhelming. I would love to just move my family to an island where they would never have to be subjected to the pressures and dangers they will inevitably face in life, but that's obviously not going to happen. This desire to protect our children is natural, but our protection can only go so far. While they are young, I will protect them to my own hurt, and I will do the same inasmuch as it is appropriate for the rest of their lives. However, as they grow, they are going to become increasingly independent and begin to make more of their own decisions. During those stages, my role will have to change. Robin McMillan made a comment recently that I found very helpful: "As parents, our job is not to protect our children from what they are going to encounter in life - our job is to prepare them for it."
Even while I am protecting my girls from the dangers of this life, I need to be preparing them to one day face them head on as godly, confident women. The only way I can do that is to be a dad - I mean really be a dad. Our kids need us to be real men. When our kids look at us, they need to see compassion, integrity, love, honesty, discipline, courage and most importantly, they need to see Jesus. Nothing short of this is going to truly prepare our children to be the people that they have the potential to be as they grow older. We need to be there, and we need to be available. Our families are the first line of defense, and they need to be the first school, the first church and the first safe place for our children to grow into who they are called to be.
They are not going to get what they need from society, and society has tried hard to make us look like idiots. It is hard to find a sitcom on television these days where the dad is a real dad. There are very few real men on TV. We used to see Andy Taylor help Opie deal with a bully and Cliff Huxtable talk to Rudy about her self image. That has all been replaced by Homer Simpson's disrespect, Ray Barone's incompetence and whatever happens on that poorly named show called "Family Guy." Dads of integrity and stature have been replaced by selfish, disrespectful morons, and that is being portrayed as normal. We really need to turn the tide. Dads need to be redefined in society, and we have to start in our own homes.
Unfortunately, it's not just TV that has changed. The curriculum in many of our schools is very undermining of the family, and, at times, our kids are encouraged to keep secrets from their parents. Many magazines and books are the same, and time would fail me to talk about the internet. If you don't know what sites your kids are visiting online, or if you don't know who their Facebook friends are, you need to find out immediately and stay on top of it. Do you know how your children get home from school? Have you met their friends' parents?
Dads, we have to be dads and truly lead our families. Society is going to work against us at times, so we have to be proactive in being involved in our children's lives. If we don't fill that role, someone else will, and we cannot afford to abdicate this responsibility. While Jesus walked this earth, He continually showed us our Heavenly Father. We need to follow His example and show Him to our kids as well. Our kids need us, and being a dad is one of the greatest honors in this life. It won't always be an easy job, but it will always be worth it. Dads, the time has come to lead the way!