Becoming A Connected Father

Day 6 of 8 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Day 6: Training Strategy 1

Be Unified

Read Genesis 2:24

When my oldest son was about 4 years old, we were eating a meal. My wife reached over without his “permission” and snagged a couple of his french fries.

He angrily said to her, “Mom! Get OFF my FOOD!”

So, I sprang into action, “Hey pal! That’s not how we talk to our mom. Do you want to try that again and show your mom some respect?”

His reply, “I think she got the point.”

I tried – I really tried – to hold it together and not laugh. But, I failed. I cracked up, and the teachable moment was lost forever!

That night, my son had caught me just right, and he got the “grace” card. But, I don’t normally let things like that slide. Most of the time, my wife and I took that stuff very seriously when our boys were younger. The ideas around training them up in the Lord, showing their mom complete respect, obeying the first time we asked them to do something, and so on – those were things that we rarely ever laughed off.

Many dads in our community expressed significant frustration in this area. Their challenges included things like these:

·  Dealing with back-talk, disrespect and disobedience

·  Fighting a spirit of entitlement

·  Setting appropriate expectations, boundaries, making the rules clear – especially as their children aged and matured

·  Inculcating responsibility (taking ownership) – getting them to follow through, being motivated to take action

·  Balancing high expectations with grace

·  Dating relationships

 

I can relate! I have five boys, with sixteen years between them. So, on any given day I might be helping one of my sons navigate work related issues while also teaching another one why we don’t throw toys across the kitchen. The “opportunities” for training them are endless!

Training Strategies

In this segment, we’ll cover two strategies for handling training:

  1. First: Being unified with our spouse.
  2. Second: Engaging hearts more so than just correcting behavior.

 

Strategy #1: Be Unified

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NIV)

Start with Unity in your marriage! Now, I realize you might be divorced, or you’ve suffered the early loss of your spouse. You’re flying solo as a parent. That’s really hard work and I admire you.

But, odds are you’re married, and both of you want to raise your kids well. In that light – the first key piece of the godly parenting puzzle is to be completely unified with your spouse in the area of parenting.

I remember the time one of my young sons said, “You love mom more than you love us, don’t you?” I said, “Yep. Any other questions?” Now, I was kidding (a little).

However, there is some truth to this – my boys know that as far as possible, I won’t let anything come between April and me – and they know that I mean it.

One of my greatest parenting weapons is unity with my wife. It’s kinda like we’re in a fight, standing back-to-back – each of us knows the other is there, standing firm, guarding my flank and slugging it out.

Yet, I know some guys who think they’re doing their kids a favor by going behind their wife’s back and undermining her efforts.

They might not agree with the mom’s stance on some issue, so they privately let their kids off the hook, slip them some extra allowance, or “cover” for their kids in some fashion.

They may say, “Now, don’t tell your mom I said this…” and proceed to criticize, disagree with or otherwise disparage their mom.

If your family were a front yard, you having these kinds of “secrets from your wife” with your kids is like spraying Round Up all over the grass – it kills. Kids know a phony, and they will exploit any gaps in your relationship with your wife!

You must demonstrate a unified front and defend your wife. I’ve told my boys, “I’m against you right now…because of how you’re treating your mom…” My boys know that one quick way to get on Dad’s “bad side” is to disrespect their mom. Few things set me against them faster.

And, not only am I making my job easier as a Dad, I’m showing them a model of unity in marriage that can help them one day when they get married.

Remember, your marriage isn’t just an instrument for procreation or child raising. It’s a picture of the gospel, and the relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father. Let’s help our children see that image clearly.

If you want to be a Connected Father, show your kids what a unified marriage looks like by standing with your wife on important issues.