We have all heard the phrase above. If a son has his dad’s abilities in sports, music, etc., we use the saying positively. If a son has anger issues, is impatient, or has other vices similar to his dad, we use “Like father, like son” in a negative sense.
As a dad, it is extremely scary and difficult to parent a child. I often wonder if I’m doing enough or if I am totally messing up my kids. The church and Christian authors contribute to this fear because there is always a new opinion on “how to” be a good dad.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
As a parent, we play an important role in the life our children. We will teach them many things over the years that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Things like riding a bike, playing sports, driving a car, cleaning house, doing laundry, taking care of finances and vehicles, loving others, and loving God. At times, we will need to discipline them in love.
With all of that said, this verse in Ephesians can become a burden to fathers and parents in general. We can become obsessed with the list of things to do to parent a successful child. Is it more service opportunities? Is it more chores or a job to teach responsibility? Is it more culture and the arts? Who you talk to determines how you answer these questions.
The verse from Ephesians is an imperative (it tell us what to do) and we often read it and others like it without remembering the indicatives (what Christ has done). If you go back and read Ephesians 1-3 you will be reminded who God is and who you are in Christ. You are “holy, blameless, loved, adopted, forgiven, alive, empowered”, etc.. When we understand these indicatives, we are able live out the indicatives from gratitude and joy.
Dads (and moms), be reminded of what God has done for you in Christ. As you go deeper in this understanding, you will want to be a better parent because it will be about God working in you through the Holy Spirit and not relying on your own strength or advice from the next best parenting book.
As a dad, are you stressed about your role as a parent? Look to Christ! When you see what He has done for you and as you realize the good Father He is, it will transform how you parent.
By J.L. Martin
Husband to Bethany, Dad of 1 boy, 3 girls
1 Corinthians 13 Team Member
Pastor of Children and Family at Hesston MB Church