It’s easy to point a finger at obvious evil, but perhaps even “good dads” are teaching much more important lessons than we think we are.
1. Fathers shape our impression of God
The Bible calls God our “Heavenly Father” many, many times. Jesus referred to God as “Father” over 100 times in the book of John alone. Paul called Him “Father” over 40 times in his writings. Many of the ways we interact with God mirror our own experiences with our dads—provider, model, teacher, judge, legislator, comforter, protector.
How we treat our kids will impact how they feel about their Heavenly Father.
- Am I angry? My kids will probably think God never is satisfied with them.
- Am I uninvolved? My kids will probably believe God is never there.
- Am I selfish? My kids will probably live as if God is uncaring.
- Am I harsh? My kids will probably consider God a tyrant.
But the flip side is true…
- Am I loving?
- Am I kind?
- Am I consistent?
- Am I just?
- Am I patient?
The more I am like my Heavenly Father, the more realistic a picture my children will have of theirs.
2. Fathers shape our impression of all authority
People who grow up in homes without a dad are 20 times more likely to be imprisoned. There are all kinds of socioeconomic reasons that play into this, but I can’t help but think that a general lack of fatherly authority in their lives has led them to a mindset that rejects all forms of authority.
But having the wrong kind of authority could greatly damage a child’s perception of his own future role as an authority figure. Fathers who are harsh or lacking love in their authority cause an even more negative impact than the absent father. Dr. Stuart Brown studied serial murderers and found that, almost without exception, their fathers had forced extremely unrealistic regimens of work and rigid rules upon them at very young ages while failing to show any compassion or love. I wonder how many people who abuse their power as adults got the idea of rigid, uncaring authority from their fathers.
Those of us who understand that we must model proper authority to our children can still be a part of the fathering problem…