Recently I was asked to give some advice to a new dad. As I pondered a response, I thought of three important things I would share with any father, not just a new father.
I regret not learning these things early in my marriage. Unfortunately, I share these with you out of my own failures. These lessons were learned the hard way.
#1. Don’t give the impression that you are perfect
When kids look at their dad and all they see is perfection, this typically causes them to close up and hide their own imperfections. When they fail or make mistakes, they begin to hide their mistakes and lie to cover them. They feel they are all alone and there is something wrong with them. They feel they’re weird and different.
As dads, let’s ask ourselves the questions, “Why do I want to appear perfect anyway? Why do I desire to appear like I have it all together? What am I really afraid of?”
Fear is what the enemy uses to drive and motivate us to do or not do something. For me, I was afraid that my children would not respect me if they thought I was not perfect. I also believed they would copy me if they knew what I did wrong. Trust me, they will probably do it whether they know or not.
I received the most amazing email from a dad who had sat down with his family to be honest and confess his failures. In the email he told me that after he finished sharing and asking his family to forgive him, his 14-year-old son looked at him and said, “Daddy, I used to look at other godly men and think I wanted to be just like them when I grow up. Now, I want to be just like you when I grow up.” He told me that if this was the only reward he was to receive from humbling himself in front of his family, it was worth it.
#2. Allow others, close to you, to be imperfect
Is your validation as a dad dependent on your wife and kids appearing to be perfect? When they appear to be perfect, does it makes you feel good about yourself?
When we require perfection, it also causes our children to hide their failures. It causes those around us to believe that if they are not perfect, they won’t be loved. This almost always leads to unhealthy addictions and behaviors. This is a horrible result of not allowing those around us to have failures and be imperfect.
Our perfectionism is forced upon others through our anger. Our family may look perfect, but the ultimate price for our anger is that our kids will despise us. They will do whatever is necessary to pull away and eventually leave us. When we get angry with our family, it is usually because it is a reflection of us and it reminds us of our own failures.
God warns us about treating others harshly for something we are guilty of also. As fathers we must conquer anger by addressing the fear behind it. We must recognize that the anger is our issue and not what someone else is causing. If we desire to be godly men, we should treat our children and their mistakes, the way God treats us and our mistakes.
A pastor’s daughter told me that when she comes home, she sneaks in the house because she wants to avoid her father. I know of another family with two daughters that left home on their 18th birthdays to get away from their father’s anger. It wasn’t because of some known failure in their father’s life, but because of his anger.
Matthew 7 – “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
As for the third thing I told that father, I’ll share it in my next blog. It is so important I’ve dedicated an entire blog for it.