New Challenges for the New Father
(1) Be Awe-Struck
Remember the first time you saw your child? Perhaps you stared with your mouth wide open, or you took a deep breath and whispered, “My Goodness!” You saw your special gift from God, “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and you were amazed.
Your child will not remember that first response, but it would be great for him to see a repeat--several times over.
Continue to be excited when your eyes meet, when he utters baby gibberish, when he learns to wave good-bye. Throughout your lifetime, fill your child’s need to be loved and to feel special. Continue to be awe-struck at his accomplishments.
(2) Be Available
Your new life-as-usual is not the same as it was before the baby. Write him in on your schedule, which means you have to lessen time with someone or something else. Be available to share baby-care with your wife—to bottle feed, to change diapers, to teach him words, to play peek-a-boo, to show him that you are a part of his life. Create an early bond with your child, and discover early how to earn his trust. He has only one father and that is true for life.
(3) Be His Example
Demonstrate the kind of character you want your son to become. It is still likely that he will do less of what you say, and more of what you do, because children learn best by imitation. He will learn from you the habit of morning prayer, evening prayer, grace before meals, what to eat and drink, and how to relate to his mother. As he grows older, he will listen as you say where you’re going and how you can be reached, and he will copy your habit. He will learn his codes of conduct by watching you.
(4) Be His Hero
You are your child’s first hero, not because of your achievements or your rank in society, but because you offered him the first image to look up to. You have an impact on how long you remain his hero. If he does not change his impression of you, you may be his superman for life. Your duty is not to be his only hero, but to remain on his list of heroes—heroes who steer him and support him on the path toward his God-given purpose, heroes who show him to overcome challenges with innate skill and talent, connected to a Supernatural power.
(5) Be Loving
Don’t only talk about your love; demonstrate it. The God kind of love includes patience, kindness, selflessness, humility, courtesy, forgiveness, fairness and trust. This kind of love reaps good results. If your dealings with your child are filtered through this mix of virtues, you child will know that he is loved, and will also learn how to love.
- He will see love in your smiles.
- He will feel love in your touch.
- He will taste love when you spoon-feed him.
- He will hear love through your tone of voice.
- He will smell love in the scent of your embrace.
- He will understand love the way you love his mother.
(6) Be Responsible
Without training, your child will grow wild; with training he will become a disciplined, productive citizen. Teach him good manners, obedience, cooperation and interpersonal skills necessary to get along with others. Teach him both to lead and to follow. Begin early to nurture his strengths and consider goals for his personal achievement. Help him discover his purpose and fuel his drive to pursue it. Take responsibility for his spiritual as well as his academic training. Commit to supporting him in every way you can, to become the Masterpiece that he was designed to be.
(7) Be Consistent
You can judge how important a habit is by how consistently you do it. Feeding time, grocery shopping and health checkups usually happen as planned; so should play time, conversation time, prayer time, cleanup time and anything else that you want your child to consider important. The values, the habits, the activities that you want to form the basic structure of his life have to be taught repeatedly. Be clear about what is acceptable and what is not; and be consistent with your approval and disapproval.
(8) Be Forgiving
Forgiveness, though a by-product of love, needs special mention because without it the other by-products may not happen. You will not hold it against your son if at two months he soils his diaper as soon as you put him in the car seat. You will not call him names if at nine months he drops his sippy cup on the carpet. You forgive him with the knowledge that he needs to be trained, not to be punished.
Some of the mistakes that children make simply mean that the parent has more training to do. Create an atmosphere in which your child expects that his faults will receive your forgiveness, followed by your training. Also forgive yourself (i.e. accept God’s forgiveness) when you think you failed in any aspect of parenting.
(9) Be Happy
The stresses of life take their toll, and ill-feelings will pay their visits. Teach your child early that happiness is a choice, and that circumstances do not control us. Say when you’re tired; at the same time, show him that tired and grumpy are not synonyms. You may be hungry after the trip on a long road where there are no sandwich shops; still take the time to share a hi-five and a laugh. Let your home be the place where positive attitudes take precedence over the pressures of life. The smile you search for on his infant face is no more important than the smile you want to see him wear as a teenager or young adult.
(10) Be Prayerful
My Dear Son, these 10 challenges are for real. There are more challenges in reality than we can put in print. Your human strength and skill are not enough to maintain the Good Dad profile your child deserves to see. You need Supernatural help.
Live in an attitude of prayer concerning your child. Speak with God in your heart before you make your decisions, before you leave him and while you’re away.
Let God parent you, and rely on the wisdom He teaches you to parent your child effectively.
Be prayerful and confident that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it ” (Philippians 1:6).
Summary of Challenges
- Be Awe-Struck
- Be Available
- Be His Example
- Be His Hero
- Be Loving
- Be Responsible
- Be Consistent
- Be Forgiving
- Be Happy
- Be Prayerful
To be most effective, qualify everyone of these challenges with the adverb continually.
© 2013 Dora Isaac Weithers
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