TRAIN YOUR CHILDREN GOD’S WAY
Fathers and Sons
No book bringing God’s perspective to childrearing would be com- plete without talking about the special bonds between fathers and mothers with both their sons and daughters.
Much could be said about how little boys look up to their fathers as virtual heroes in their lives—“My dad can beat up your dad,” “My dad’s better than your dad,” etc. All men are familiar with these feel- ings from childhood. The Proverbs state that “the glory of children are their fathers” (17:6).
Fathers, strive to always be a hero to your son(s). Be sure that he can always look up to your example. Remember at all times that what your son is seeing in you is largely what he will become in adulthood. It has been shown that positive father role models pro- duce sons who are both generally more sound in thinking and better at overall problem-solving. An example of strength and maturity dis- played by you will reappear later in your sons.
Recall that Paul wrote, “Fathers PROVOKE NOT your children to anger lest they be discouraged” (Col. 3:21), and also “fathers, PRO- VOKE NOT your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
These passages contain a great deal to consider, and more than can be fully explained here. However, depending upon the tempera- ment and strength of your son, you will find that he will respond to provocation, harshness, abuse or excessive discipline with either “discouragement” (the weaker or more timid son) or “wrath” (the stronger, more emotional or more naturally self-willed son). Be care- ful to practice God’s balance of “nurturing” (loving instruction) and “admonition” (discipline).
Be sure to set a masculine example for your sons. They are watching more closely than you realize! Remember, Solomon wrote, “The glory of young men is their strength” (Prov. 20:29). Reflecting a masculine example includes demonstrating a certain amount of strength that your son will want to emulate.
Also, remember to treat older and younger sons in the same fashion. Do not let yourself be like the patriarch Isaac, who favored his son Esau, while his wife Rebekah favored Jacob. This resulted in unnecessary rivalry and bitterness between these brothers. This sin- gle episode, recorded in the book of Genesis, ultimately had a pro-
found impact on the entire course of human history. Making the same mistake with your children will have no less effect, if only in the lives of your sons. Fathers (and mothers), be careful of unconsciously building a rivalry between sons. You could be sentencing them to a spirit of competition that will last a lifetime.
Be careful, however, that you also do not ever show favoritism to sons above daughters.
Fathers and Daughters
Many studies have demonstrated the enormous importance of build- ing and maintaining a good father-daughter relationship—and there are many reasons for this.
It has been said that girls tend to marry men who are most like their fathers. This makes being a good father more crucial than meets the eye. It is not unusual for abused girls to marry abusive men. The daughters of warm, kind, patient, wise and loving fathers generally look for the same qualities in prospective mates. And this would naturally be the kind of man fathers want their daughters to look up to. (Of course, this is also true for their sons, in reverse.) Not only do girls who have not had a close relationship with a father potentially have great difficulty in marriage, they also struggle with being com- fortable in relationships with—and even being in the presence of— all men throughout the course of their lives.
Recall that Paul’s instruction to fathers had to do with their “chil- dren,” not just their sons. It is absolutely paramount that fathers not be harsh, mean, overly sharp or abusive to daughters. Fathers must never forget that daughters are more delicate and usually somewhat more tenderhearted than boys. Few things are more painful to ob- serve than a huge man roaring or railing at a little, fragile girl who has made a simple, innocent mistake. Be sure that you never name- call or over-react with your daughter. While it is not always visible, the result can be devastating. A warm father-daughter relationship has been demonstrated to produce the qualities of achievement, cre- ativity and independence in adult women.
Also, showing the right kind of fatherly affection with girls when growing up will not only teach your daughter to be affectionate, it will make her much more likely to wait until marriage to display af- fection, and this includes intimate affection, only proper within mar- riage. Girls who do not feel affection and tenderness from fathers are