Posted October 09, 2009:
A Letter to Dads

by a concerned observer.

Dear dads,

There’s something I’d like to bring up with you, if I may be so bold—the subject of teasing your sons.

It strikes me that men among themselves, like in the workplace or when relaxing, do a lot of bantering and one-upmanship. This is all right, to a certain degree, though even this can be a way of avoiding things that need to be dealt with.

Then there is the kind of teasing that is a put-down, sometimes even ridicule. This kind of teasing is very harmful especially in the home, and especially if you do it to your sons. They don’t have thick skins yet, and it wounds their spirits.

It won’t toughen them up either. What will toughen them up to face the challenges ahead is you building their confidence and you showing your confidence in them.

Rather than telling them that an action of theirs is stupid (or, far worse, that they are stupid) or telling them to "smarten up," or something like that, it’s much better to say, "That was an honest mistake. Let’s see what we can learn from it." Then work with them on it.

With the ridiculing, put-down type of teasing, you’ll lose your sons to someone or something they perceive affirms them. That’s why some young people hang out with the wrong kind of crowd or follow the wrong kind of leader.

It seems to me that dads, especially in our time when there is so much coming against children, need to take up the cross of fatherhood and spend more time with their children—being attentive and compassionate, listening and guiding—hearing their hearts, not just their words; seeing their hearts, not just their crazy actions.

You’ll get a heck of a lot further with your sons with the kind of fathering that builds them up, and you’ll open the door for them to come to you, rather than to someone else, when they are in need. Then, even if they go astray for a while, they’ll know how to get home.

You don’t have to be a super-dad or know all there is about fathering. If you are a father, you can do it. If you are a father, God has given you the grace for it. In fact, you are the perfect father for your children. It is to you that God has entrusted them.


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