Good fathers set good examples for their children. For some men, being a good father will require forgetting prehistoric ideas about child rearing. Such ideas are expressed in the following statements: “I’m a man. I’ve got to be strong. I don’t tell anyone that I love them. They ought to know it. Don’t I put a roof over their heads and feed and clothe them?” I’ve got news for you, dad—they DON’T know it simply because you pay the bills. As an old Beetles song says, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.”
Being a good father takes time—time spent with your children. If in your pursuit of money, fame or fortune, you don’t have time for your children, do the world a favor and don’t have them. However, if you choose to have children, it is vitally important that you make time to be with them. This truth was brought home to me when I was in seminary. In my psychology class, each student was required to write a case study of one of their counseling cases for critique by the class. During the first group meeting, we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell a little about our backgrounds. There was a hippy-looking (sandals, long hair, shorts and T-shirt) young man in the group who made a sly, cutting remark about me. He did that in a couple of meetings. It became evident he didn’t like me, which simply amazed me because he didn’t even know me. I decided to find out why he was so hostile toward me and invited him to have a cup of coffee with me in the cafeteria. During the conversation, I found he was a PK (preacher’s kid). His father was the pastor of a large church in another state. He absolutely hated his father who had spent many years totally devoted to climbing the ministerial ladder of success and completely neglecting his wife and children. Since I was an older student with a family and dressed more formally, he identified me with his father. Through the wonderful process of transferences, he directed the hostility he had for his father toward me. That revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. He didn’t know it, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but at that time I was doing the same thing his father had done. It suddenly dawned on me that no matter what I achieved in life, if my children hated me, I would be a total failure and that would break my heart.
I’m glad God brought that young man across my path. The meeting with him brought about several changes in my life, in my goals, and in particular, in making my children a higher priority.
Being a good father requires time. Does the way you spend your time reflect how important your family is to you?