I loved my father in a deep and tender way and longed to spend time with him. But my dad seemed oblivious to all of this and with few exceptions he spent virtually no time with me. He attended one Little League game in my entire career that I can remember. He never went to school events or made time to bond with me. I have no recollection of him telling me that he loved me. He never invested in my life by disciplining or mentoring me. I often described our relationship as “two ships passing in the night”.
This caused me to grow up "daddy poor" (as I often say). And it created a wound that went deep. It produced an insecurity and a dysfunction in me that I struggle with to this day. When I became a Christian, I was comforted to read in the Bible that what I lacked in an earthly father, I had gained in my heavenly Father. "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing." Psalm 68:5-6a
Growing up “daddy poor” resulted in me struggling to form intimate and deep relationships all of my life. I tended to skim along the surface in my relationships with people, just as my dad had done. I did not want to be like this, but it was just that my parents, my father in particular, never showed or taught me any other way.
If you grew up the way that I did it can leave a huge hole in your life. The best way to help heal from that and to stop the pattern in your own family is through a personal relationship with Jesus and knowing that God is your ultimate Father. As the godly head of your household you can be the kind of dad that shows and leads your kids to Christ.
When I had my own children I was determined to break the "daddy poor" cycle. There were 4 key principles that I incorporated with our boys as they were growing up that would have a godly lifelong impact on their lives. They are based on 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, which says, “As you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
The key principles are: Connection, Affection, Correction and Affirmation.
1. Connection: Be there for your kids. Spend time with them, make them a priority. Like to golf? Golf with your kids. Have a hobby? Make your kids a part of that. You get the idea…but do whatever it takes to connect with your children.
2. Affection: Show your kids you love them! Hugging them and loving on them, even when they don’t want you to or they feel embarrassed. This can be awkward for some men, but do it anyway!
3. Correction: Discipline is hard and exhausting. But you must do it. You are doing your kids a huge disservice when you fail to discipline them..
4. Affirmation: Verbally tell your kids that you are proud of them and that you love them. This too can be hard for some men to say to their children, but the power of those words can have a huge impact on your child’s life.
And remember, ultimately, our children grow up to love and serve the Lord not because of the dad we are or are not—but because of His merciful and gracious work in their hearts. Committing your children to the Lord in prayer on a daily basis is the most important thing any parent can do.
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 4.
Happy Father's Day!