You might look at the title of this article and ask yourself, “What’s the difference?” As far as semantics are concerned, there is no difference. But for the purpose of this article, we are going to look at the fundamental differences between being a man who has children (a father) and a man who engages with his children (a dad). The latter should be our goal.
Fathers feel the need to provide, Dads look to God to provide. While the single income family is not the norm any more, in many households, the husband is the main bread-winner. This can be a great burden for men, particularly in these tough economic times. God will always take care of our needs – this is a promise. We can dig our hands deeper into our pockets or lift them heavenward and model Psalm 81:10 which says, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
Fathers have answers, Dads ask questions. The quickest way to answer a question is to . . . well, answer it. Our children are full of questions about friendships, homework and soccer practice. A busy life makes one eager to push through these questions as efficiently as possible. Alternatively, we can slow down, engage our children and ask a few questions of our own. This will not only show that we are interested in what interests them, but it will also enable them to begin to think for themselves. If we don’t teach our children to seek out their own solutions, they will surely never find them.
Fathers tell how, Dads show how. Again, often the distinction here is fueled by time – or a lack there of. We can teach our children verbally or we can model for them behaviorally. This is true in woodshop, car repair and even anger management. “Do as I say, not as I do,” won’t work. Our kids are going to do what we do, regardless of what we tell them.
Fathers have wisdom, Dads share it. Men, you have been around a lot longer than your children and you have the emotional and physical scars to prove it. All of those life experiences have given you wisdom. You can harness that wisdom and put it to good use. Read Proverbs for a great example of how one father shared godly wisdom with his son.
Fathers feel love, Dads freely give it. Not all men are comfortable with sharing their emotions. But love can be shared in so many different ways. For example, you may feel uncomfortable hugging your children, but a gentle pat on the back or a squeeze of the neck may come naturally to you. “I love you” may get stuck at the back of your throat, but a hand-written note in a lunchbox can be just as meaningful. You may not like cuddling on the couch but a game of hide-and-seek can end with a playful tackle.
This Father’s Day, let’s take some time to ask God to search our hearts and then give Him the room to work. As a father molds and shapes his children, so our Heavenly Father molds and shapes us.
Happy Father’s Day.
[Photo credit: ameestauffer from morguefile.com]