Be silly with your kids. It strengthens the bond. I once did my Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation in a McDonald’s drive through. The look of horror on my boys’ faces was priceless as they dove into the back seats of the van.
After 22 years in the trenches of fatherhood, I truly believe that being a good dad boils down to two things, love and affirmation.
The Bible says, “Love covereth a multitude of sins.” Proverbs 10:12.
I like to say, “Love avoids a multitude of sins.”
When a girl has the attention and the affirmation of her father, the benefits are HUGE!
It gives her greater self esteem, raises her standards, and keeps her from chasing boys. My daughter is 14. She has a lot of friends who are already dating, but she just is not that impressed…yet. I’m bracing myself. (She also has two enormous brothers, 6′ 2″ and 6’6″, so I got that going for me, as well.)
When my boys were 12 and 8, I pitched to them for batting practice pretty regularly, 2 or 3 times a week. The grounds keeper at the local baseball field came up to me and said, “I see ya’ spendin’ time witcha boys. Dat’s reeeaal good. Anything go wrong wid’em… won’t be yo’ fault.” (He was serious, but I cracked up.)
My sons have grown into leaders, beyond anything I ever did at their ages. I never played team sports, perhaps because the captain of my team (my dad) left when I was four. (Hmmm…I just thought of that.)
I ran track which is a rather solitary sport, you against your personal best. My oldest son, Wes, was quarterback and captain of his high school football team. He went on to play Division 1 football in college at Charleston Southern University where he studied sports medicine. He also leads his own weekly Bible study. Brandon, aka Bmurr, his younger brother, is 18. He is a pitcher, playing D1 baseball at the University of South Florida. (He throws 93 mph. I throw… 50 mph?) God is amazing.
The hard work for a dad is making time to spend time. Rub a shoulder, pat a back. A minute is all it takes to make a lasting impression, good or bad. Remember, not spending time sends a message as well.
In a recent men’s Bible study that I attended, out of eight men, two had fathers who said, “I love you.” One guy recalled that his father said it regularly. He was a well adjusted and confident fellow with fond memories. The rest of us were an assortment of damaged goods. Some substance abusers, some men from failed marriages, all struggling with issues of confidence and self-worth. Don’t get me wrong, we were all coping and looked normal enough, but there was a lot hidden under the surface.
As a man, whether you have a good or bad relationship with your son or daughter, say “I love you.” Even if it feels uncomfortable. Love is fuel. Put it in your kid’s tank and see what happens. It may surprise you. My kids have enriched my life. In fact, it was because of them that I wrote the Majesty series. Without them, it never would have happened.
As a dad, what can you do to make time to spend time? When’s the last time you said I love you?
Children are a precious gift.
By D.W. Murray
Husband to Mary Ellen
Dad of 3
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Story and animation artist
Author of the Majesty series