1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Parents play a paramount role in the growth and development of their kids. For mothers, while their responsibilities may vary from mother to mother, the mother is indisputably responsible for carrying the child for 9 months, and bringing him/her into existence. The father however, has the principal responsibility to care, provide1 and to lead/guide his family. The relationship between the father and child is placed with utmost significance in the Kingdom of God such that God Himself liken His relationship with us to that between a father and son.
Bible Scholars inferred that husbands/fathers automatically assumes 3 primary roles; the Prophet, the Priest and the King2. The importance (or lack) of (good) fathers can be observed in our generation where single mom families or families with absentee fathers are highly dysfunctional, resulting in problematic/dysfunctional families and kids. Furthermore, instead of providing wise council and teaching their children (in the ways of the Lord), fathers are hated by their children. Rather than coming under the tutelage of their fathers, the furthest fathers can get to in conversation with their children is “Have you eaten?”, “Need money?” or “Come home early”. Why?
Parents often quote Confucian value of filial piety to their children – or shove it down their throats – while Christian parents quote Ephesians 6 to their children. *Much similarities has been observed between the values advocated in Christianity and Confucianism. The father works especially hard to provide for his children’s every need. However, why is it so that his children detest him?
People often quote Ephesians 6:1-3, but they often forget about the adjacent verse;
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
It seems that the God of the Bible has already foreseen ahead of time that fathers will aggravate their children, and children will hate their fathers huh?
Do fathers not love their children? Of course not. But could it be that their actions and words negate the good they have done? While monetary provision/support is important, emotional, mental (and spiritual) support is just as important. “But when I was young, my father treated me like this too. He said and did the same things. That’s what I was taught about fatherhood.” You must understand that this is the 21st century. Not the 70s, 60s or 50s. Not 100 B.C or 100 A.D.
“That’s my way of loving them.” Times has changed. Call it strawberry generation if you like, but this generation – and how they function – is here to stay. Fathers, you can’t simply be the Provider that provides the dough and say “I can do whatever the hell I want, say whatever I want to say because I bring in the dough and I am your father and that is for your own good.” It just doesn’t work in this century. And precisely because your father taught you in such a way that you know to be displeasing, all the more that method of parenting should stop at his generation. Not because you don’t love and honor your father but because you love and honor your own children.
“FOR A COUPLE OF hundred years now, each generation of fathers has passed on less and less to his sons–not just less power but less wisdom. And less love. We finally reached a point where many fathers were largely irrelevant in the lives of their sons… Being a father is life’s fullest expression of masculinity. But for many males, life consists of a search for the lost father.”
Abstract from ‘Fathers and Sons’ article on Psychology Today 3
Here’s my own story. Growing up, I was extremely fearful of my father. I was ‘taught’ to ‘behave’ for not doing so will result in several physical chastisement. As I grew up, I grew in resentment of my father to the point of hate until I was gloriously saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. But even as a believer, it is not easy for me to love and forgive. Today, the physical chastisement may no longer be applicable, the verbal toxins continues to grieve my heart. I have to choose love over hate every single day.
Does my father not love me? Absolutely not! When I wanted an iPad and a DSLR, he got them for me. But he made me feel terrible (about myself). I am human, and what I feel will be a result of his actions and words. I do not write this in condemnation of my own father for that will be sin onto me. My point of this entry is to share my point of view of (Godly or lack of sound) fatherhood and its consequences in human society. Pastor Paul Scanlon from Life Church wrote a fantastic book titled ‘I am not my father’. The main gist of the content can be condensed into two main points;
- I am not my father – If I have a father who may not have performed their duty to love, protect and care for their children, then I am not my father. Not that I hate my father, I love my father nevertheless. But I do not subscribe to the methods of my father. I do not become like my father. I become a better father to my children just as Christ has called me to be.
- I am not my father – If I have a father who was exemplary in his teachings to me, and has performed his duty to love, protect and care for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs, I honor him for it. But I am not my father because every good father would wish for their children to excel and do better and parenting than they will ever do. My father would have wished for me to become the bestest father to my children than he will ever be.
Fathers enter fatherhood with the birth of a child. But fatherhood is also an art – that takes a lifetime to master.
Fathers, you have a holy calling by the Lord to train your child (in the ways of the Lord – Proverbs 22:6). But your words and actions may be provoking and as a result, creating distance between you and your children. Fathers, before you say or do something, think about how your children will feel. Unfortunately, your words and actions have the potential to negate the good you have done. But isn’t that the same for everyone else? Someone once said, “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” Some people are living under the same roof but the distance between them is like from planet to planet. That is NOT what God called for you and your children.
“Becoming Father the Nurturer rather than just Father the Provider enables a man to fully feet and express his humanity and masculinity. Fathering is the most masculine thing a man can do.”
Abstract from ‘Fathers and Sons’ article on Psychology Today
Fathers, you may ask “Is there hope in the restoration of my relationship with my son?” Yes there is. The thing is, no matter how strained the relationship currently is, all children longed for an intimate relationship with their fathers deep down in their heart – even if their outward demeanor says otherwise. Because God Himself has sanctioned that His relationship with us His children is that of Father and child, there is hope.
Fathers, ask yourself honestly today, what are the actions and words you partake in that ‘offends’ your children? Is it extremely necessary for you to say or perform that action – not doing so will result in significant monetary/life/health damage? If yes, is there another way you can bring your good intentions across? If your answer is no, then can you agree to disagree? Or is there another alternative or method to bring your advice across?
The truth is, your children are learning how to manage you as their father as you are learning how to manage them as your children.
Sons and daughters, you may ask “Is there hope in my being able to communicate with my own father?” Yes there is hope.
“.. the Old Testament ends with a great prospect – a time when there will be reconciliation between children and their earthly fathers, and by implication – between human beings and the Perfect Father.”
Abstract from 100 Verse Bible: The essence of the world’s most popular book
How do I take active steps to do so? First, you got to pray to God. Chances are, we all have bitterness and unforgiveness against our fathers. Prayer softens our resolve to bear those grudges. Pray to God the Perfect Father who heals your hurts and helps you to forgive. Prayer helps us to look at the situation objectively, thus allowing us to remember all the good our fathers have done for us. Recognize that your father is also human and he will err. But it does not remove all the good or isolate his love for you.
Next, pray for your father. He too will have had hurts accumulated in his own life. Pressures of life (work stress, financial stress, health problems, or even his relationship with your mother, etc) which we do not know about can also affect him adversely. Pray for him. If you are the only believer in your family, it will be significantly difficult to reconcile but impossible is not in God’s dictionary, neither should it be in yours. We always quote “When one in the household is saved, the household will be saved” or “You are the salt of the earth, light of the world”… time to believe in what you preach.
Good fathers (read: dad) are not extinct. I believe that current strained relationships can be restored and new fathers can be better fathers than their own fathers. I believe that the dysfunctional family unit is an attack by the devil. Dysfunctional family births forth individuals who make bad choices. The dysfunctional individual affects the family, which in turn affects the community, affecting the marketplace, then affecting the society, country and the world as we know it. But Jesus is our Hope! The family unit must be restored and made strong so that change can be present one level at a time until society is transformed.
Lastly, may I invite each and every one of you to pray this simple prayer with me that the family unit in Singapore will be strong and that God will bring reconciliation for fathers to children, children to fathers.From Fathers to Dads
Thank You for being our Perfect Heavenly Father.
In You there is no blemish or spots.
Thank You for gloriously saving me.
I pray that You will come and bless the family unit in Singapore,
Reconcile fathers to sons, sons to fathers,
Reconcile fathers to daughters, daughters to fathers.
I rebuke the attacks of Satan on the family unit.
Devil you have no place in the family unit.
Father I pray that You will receive Love and Forgiveness in every household.
I pray that You will empower every Father to live out his calling as Prophet, Priest and King.
In Jesus Name I pray,
Footnotes and References
1 Although in modern times, women are drawing higher salaries and taking up higher positions in the workforce due to the feminist movement; hence commanding a greater voice in the family unit.
2 Fesko, J. Every Father a Prophet, Priest, and King. Retrieved from http://www.genevaopc.org/articles/theology/93-every-father-a-prophet-priest-and-king.html
3 Pittman, F. 1993. Fathers and Sons. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/fathers-and-sons
4 Stibbe, M. 2010. 100 Verse Bible: The essence of the world’s most popular book. UK: Monarch Books.