I grew up without a father -- well, an earthly father. I wasn't a super spiritual kid, but I remember being glad that I had a Heavenly Father since I didn't have an in-the-flesh one (that was around much, anyway). It was a conscious awareness of Someone that cared about me, and that was a comfort to me as a young girl. (It just struck me that my dad left my life when I was the age of my youngest daughter. It makes me really sad to imagine her without a dad. But I digress . . .) As a teen, I wrote letters -- lots and lots of letters -- to my Heavenly Father -- in all kinds of journals.
I don't remember learning about God as my Heavenly Father, but obviously I did. And I don't remember anyone telling me what a "good father" is or does, which of course would shape my image of my Heavenly Father -- but I remember having concepts of those things nonetheless. Those concepts of fatherhood shaped not only who I am today, but what I dreamed about for my own future children. In reality, they affected who I chose to marry -- and therefore the generations that will come after me.
I married a man who is a great dad. And through him, I have come to realize how hard it is to be a great dad. It takes concerted effort and careful consideration and a whole lot of self-sacrifice. Truly, I don't think great dads get enough credit for what they do and give up for the sake of their children.
I know my children love their dad -- but I find myself wondering if they really know how blessed they are. How do you teach your children to recognize how great their dad is? (That's not a rhetorical question! If you have an answer, please share it in the comments.) And what are some concrete ways they can learn to express their appreciation of him? Father's Day crafts are nice and all -- but do they really communicate what should be expressed?
Let's brainstorm some practical ways we (including our children) can communicate to the dads in our lives that we value and appreciate them (every day -- not just on Father's Day), shall we? I'll start, and you can add to the list in the comments . . .
- Greet him with hugs and kisses when he comes home. Few things say, "You're not important" like carrying on with what we're doing without so much as acknowledging his presence.
- Bake/cook things he likes -- often. "Nothin' says lovin' like somethin' from the oven ;)"
- Create a calm, peaceful environment when he comes home from work -- so he wants to come home. (And that starts with our own state of mind and heart!)
- Write notes of love and appreciation to place in his pockets, briefcase, car, lunch . . .
- Verbally communicate how loved and important he is.
- Communicate in his love language.
- Tell other people how awesome he is -- in his presence.
- Respect his wishes and preferences, as well as his opinions and requests. Everyone. Every one.
- Pray for him. And be specific. (Kat at Inspired to Action offers a great, free calendar for wives to pray for their husbands. And wouldn't you know it -- the prayer topic for today's date is fatherhood!)
- Spend one-on-one time with him.
- Use a pass-it-back journal to communicate with him (if he likes words and writing).
- Tell him often that he's awesome!
- Give him space -- time to read, play, or chill in whatever way he likes -- on a regular basis.
- Respect his stuff -- don't use it without asking, and put it back where it belongs, in good condition.
- Clean up for and after him -- without complaining. (Servanthood = Greatness in God's kingdom! Mark 9:35)
Do you have any other suggestions?
While we're at it, let's remember to reflect on our Heavenly Father, especially with our children. As wonderful as our earthly fathers can be if they choose, they are not perfect. But what a blessing to know that children of all ages (including those of us in grown-up bodies) have a Perfect Daddy -- Abba Father -- who desires to meet our every need -- but will not force Himself upon us. This Father's Day -- and every other day of the year -- let's honour the Creator God images of the Heavenly Father -- but also the Abba Father Himself.
Future generations depend on it.