As I began this post I was hoping to discover something akin to “Top 3 Way Your Faith Shapes Your Fatherhood” or “5 Ways That Faith Matters in Parenthood,” but alas I had no such luck. Perhaps later after comments and further research, I will be able to distill a few key areas where our faith shapes our fatherhood. However, faith is not so easily distilled from our lives because ultimately faith permeates everything in our lives, especially our fatherhood. In fact, faith is one of the key areas our kids engage with us in.
Jon Acuff once said, “If you want to engage with your kids, be interested in what they are interested in.”
While I think this quote holds true, it fails to encapsulate how children engage with us. I think the primary way children get interested in us is our faith. Said in the more tweetable format:Our children engage with us by being interested in our faith. Click To Tweet
Faith and Fathering
A few articles ago I used the Dallas Cowboys and some simple pictures to demonstrate how our faith can shape our career. But think about how much more your faith shapes your home life. If you are spending all of your free time talking about, watching, and reading about the Dallas Cowboys, where does your family fit in?
Don’t limit this to football though. If your faith is in hard work, will you spend all your time at the office? Imagine how that affects a 5-year-old when his dad is always leaving him for the office.
Our kids often exist as blank slates, and our faith writes on those slates. It may not seem intentional, but if you look, then you will see your beliefs all over the place on the chalkboard of your child’s life.Our kids often exist as blank slates, and our faith writes on those slates. Click To Tweet
Think about it.
Does someone who believes in technology send their kids to play football where their brains could be ruined?
Does the faithful businessman send his kids to art college, or the faithful free-spirit send their child into the rigidity of boarding school?
Faith alters the actions of parenting. In turn, faith frames the contours of our children’s lives. It is worth considering you faith if for no other reason than the consequences, both short and long term, both good and bad for your children.
However, there is a deeper level to all this. Faith doesn’t just permeate the parenting actions we take. It goes deeper.
Faith and Fatherhood
Remember fatherhood doesn’t ultimately concern the action we take with or on our children. Fatherhood concerns us, the parent. It concerns how we perceive and take in the world. Fatherhood eventually translates into fathering. Faith takes hold of our fatherhood in a few ways deep ways. Two of the most influential I could think of are what we learn and what we ask.
What We learn
Our faith categorizes what information is important. If the Dallas Cowboys are the most important thing in your life, then your child will prioritize information about the Cowboys in a variety of ways, possibly at the expense of other information. The Cowboys become a lens through which they view the world because it is a lens that we view the world.
This means our learning is radically changed based on our faith, and not just our learning but our children’s learning as well. In the age of information overload, faith becomes an incredibly important filter. This filter is passed from parent to child almost unconsciously. For example, imagine what happens when that filter of faith is the exaltation of the child.In the age of information overload, faith becomes an incredibly important filter. Click To Tweet
Children as the most important thing?
Consider then what happens when the most important thing in your life is your child? How must that distort their view of the world?
Think about how children must process the world in a selfie-centric way. Of course, the world must revolve around them and their accomplishments because their parent’s faith has long cemented this idea. How much pressure is put on a child in this scenario? To place our children at the place of God is too much for children. Is it any wonder that anxiety and suicide are on the rise in a society that exalts and places so much hope in the child? That is only the short term effect.
In the long term, the child must view themselves as the ultimate learning vehicle. The greatest truth comes from within. “Speak Your Truth,” became the motto of the world because you are the greatest source of learning in the world. It all came from our society’s collective faith in the exaltation of the child.When children are the answer, we should examine the questions we are asking. Click To Tweet
What We Ask
If faith shapes what we learn, it also shapes what questions we ask. When we fail to ask a question, we fail to make an observation. That stops us from making growth or change that we might need to grow in our fatherhood. Let me give you an example of what I mean and if you need further clarification please comment because more words might be needed here.
Example of Asking Questions
So my son has taught me a lot in his short 3 years. One day he was throwing a tantrum, as all toddlers do, over the epic battle that is dinner time. He hadn’t eaten the pre-agreed upon amounts of food, and he wanted a treat. I gave no ground, and that made him mad because he wasn’t getting what he wanted. Later, as the tantrum subsided and the food was ultimately consumed and the treat given. I reflected.
How often does God feel this way about me? He wants me to have the treat, yet I just need to do the pre-agreed upon work. Does God feel this compassion inside as I do? How can I apply this question to my life? Can I love other people the way I love my son, with patient, firm, compassion?
My son teaches me about himself and a lot of the junk that is inside myself. Usually, I try to parent out the bad stuff that I am passing on to him. But the questions I get to ask, fill me up and lead me in a direction that I hadn’t considered in my previous 30 years. So the questions my faith allows me to ask changes my fatherhood. It gives me the chance for compassion and connection with my son without having to sacrifice being the parent. We can have a real relationship. I can be his compassionate friend and firm father.
As an aside: I notice that when we fight the worst is when we act the most similarly. It is probably the same as you and your kids. Something to reflect on.What questions do you ask when your faith is in the Dallas Cowboys? In hard work? In technology, knowledge, or the arts? In God? Click To Tweet
What Questions, What Learning Feeds Your Fatherhood
I imagine the questions we could ask make a deeper impact on our fatherhood than we are willing to admit. Those questions spiral out into what we learn. What we learn is then passed on in our fathering, to our children. It is our faith, the actions we take out of our beliefs, that alter our entire family.
Consider what your faith is in. What outcomes does it give? What questions do you get to ask and what answer do you receive? If you don’t like your answers to these questions, I recommend you reconsider your faith or perhaps examine it for the first time.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman