For the many dads who are struggling to become heroes to your children … you are not alone. It is said that any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a good father. (Tweet this) God has given fathers unique roles in the family setup. The responsibility spans across serving as priests, protectors, providers, servants, coaches, friends, motivators, nurturing talent, and some more. As fallible as we are, it really takes grace and unconditional love to fulfill this role. After 26 years of being a dad, I can only thank God for shaping my life and helping me realize how children are precious gifts from Him. I’ve had my fair share of parental failures but allow me to share a story about how God helped me to restore my relationship with our eldest child.
Like most first-borns, our first daughter always has a special place in the family. She was pampered and indulged as a child wherever we went. We raised her in a culture that believed in the African Proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That notion runs deep in our culture. Elders in the society, no matter who they were, felt an obligation to offer guidance and correction to any unruly child whenever they came across one. My wife and I didn’t want any of our daughters to be tagged as disobedient children.
Time went by, and our little daughter entered adolescence, but I hadn’t learned about the emotional and psychological changes she was going through. She begun exhibiting rapid mood swings, defiant behavior, resistant to authority, argumentative and I didn’t know what to do except to harshly discipline her. I was overly critical in my speech and sadly, the great relationship we had soured. At dawn one day, my wife dropped a “bomb”. She simply said, “Your daughter thinks you hate her.” Those five words came down like a ton of bricks crashing in on me. In my ignorance and quest to reign in this behaviour, I had taken my actions too far. What do I do? Who do I turn to? Where can I get help? How do I reconnect with my daughter who by this time had distanced herself from me?
It’s amazing how God uses circumstances to draw us back to Himself. While struggling with pride, I tried justifying my actions, I was unsure how society viewed me. I wanted my daughter back in my life, but above all, I had to deal with my relationship with God. To be honest, the only thing I remembered was a verse I’d learned in Sunday school – Psalm 50.15, “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me.” If God could come to the aid of the first dysfunctional family of Adam and Eve, then He is more than able to help us whenever we cry out to Him.
In the Bible we learn of God calling David “a man after His own heart”. David strayed many times from God but found his way back to Him because he learned to humble himself before God (Psalm 62.9). He was quick to admit his faults and repented from them (Psalm 25.11). He feared God (Psalm 18.3) and placed his trust in Him (Psalm 27.1). He knew his strength to succeed only came from Him, and so he loved God (Psalm 18.1). He learned obedience through his struggles (Psalm 119.34) and through that, he discovered the faithfulness of God (Psalm 23.6). I learned from David’s experience.
In his book, Dynamic Dads, author and theologian Dr. Paul Petitt, writes, “It’s humbling yet heroic when a man admits he needs help.” It was difficult swallowing my pride, admitting my wrong and asking for forgiveness and help. It took a while to unlearn being overly critical, and learning to use words that build up, cherish, nourish and affirm and making time to show the value I placed on our relationship. I looked daily for activities she loved just to reconnect, and it took months to regain her trust.
Dr. Gail Gross, a human behavior and family expert, in an article for Huffington Post, writes, that fathers are central to the emotional well-being of their children. Today, my daughter has grown into a strong and confident Christian woman, ready to make a difference in her world and we enjoy the best of father and daughter relationships. If God can do that for me, then He can also do that for you.
As Father’s Day approaches, it’s an opportune time to step back and reflect on our roles as fathers and how we are raising children who will lead their generation.
Happy Father's Day.