By Carolyn R. Tomlin
Near a window of our home, I watched as a pair of gray Mockingbirds built a nest in a willow tree. For several days they gathered bits of straw, tiny twigs, and even a length of red yarn found in the yard. When time came for the female to lay eggs and stay on the nest, the male brought her tasty insects. But other than food, he sung to her. Long into the night, he serenaded her with a wide repertoire of melodies. Later when the three fledglings hatched, the parents provided small tidbits of worms. And during a heavy rain they covered the babies with their wings.
Watching, I was reminded of how both mothers and fathers care for their young. As the child grows and develops, “needs” will change. However, some basic requirements remain the same until the child grows into an adult.
In celebrating Father’s Day this month, a child needs a father who will:
- Love unconditionally. “As a father of three daughters, I recognize their unique differences,” says Randy Rinehart of Houston, Mississippi. “My wife and I celebrate their distinctive personalities. As a Christian father, I want to love my family like Christ loves us.” Regardless of physical appearance, athletic ability, skills, or talents, a child’s father should not only show but tell the child how important they are and that they are loved.
- Listen when the child speaks. Does your child feel comfortable sharing his or her feelings? Do you have a special time to talk about their day? Teach a child that their Heavenly Father hears them when they pray. Anywhere—anytime—Christ is ready to listen, if they seek Him.
- Set a high standard for values and morals in the home. What kind of legacy are you leaving your children? Is it one they will model when they become adults? A friend said, “I have to walk the talk if I expect my children to do the same. I can’t require more of them than I do of myself.”
- Share family meals together. A wise father suggested his daughters learn a new word and its definition for each day. At the end of the year, they learned the meaning of 365 new words. Another suggested his children begin a journal that includes important family values. “When I became a father, I had the responsibility of preparing my children to live in the real world,” he says. “The time of childhood is so brief—there’s so much to teach in such a short period of time.”
- Schedule time daily for one-on-one conversation and interaction with each child. A father tells of seeking out each child during the course of a day and talking—just talking. Even if away from home on business, he still calls each child daily and they converse about the day’s events. Is it any wonder this father and his children feel close?
- Play games as a family. Yes, some of the games children want to play seem boring to adults. It’s not the game—but the time spent learning to win or lose—to give and take. And hopefully the child understands this lifetime lesson: That sometimes in life you lose—even when you’ve done your best.
- Participate in physical activity. Childhood obesity is on the rise. Overweight children often develop health problems usually associated with older adults. How can fathers make exercise fun? Take a walk. Ride bikes. Swim year-round at a local health club. Invest in a couple of pieces of home exercise equipment. Walk the dog. If your church has a gym, join other families for a game of basketball or physical activity. Daily exercise improves overall health and fitness. Plus, it’s another way of being together as a family. Parents who teach by example help their children develop healthy habits for living.
- Develop an attitude of compassion for others. Are there elderly family members or neighbors who need help in caring for their yard or home? Would someone enjoy a burger off your backyard grill? One father sacks up food and has his teenage son make the delivery. “I’m teaching him to share and be concerned about others,” he says.
Fathers who want their children to grow into responsible, caring adults can help this happen by being a positive role model during the formative years.
Carolyn Tomlin has been in the field of education for 33 years. Publishing over 4,000 magazine articles and 19 books, she encourages others to write for the Christian market by teaching the Boot Camp for Christian Writers. She can be reached at 731.668.9564 or firstname.lastname@example.org.