When my eldest daughter, Bea, now 9, quarrels with his brother David, 7 for a toy they like or because one insists that she or he watches a particular channel, it’s as if ‘World War III’ has just erupted at home.
Add to that my 3-year-old Niquee, who is starting to explore his strength as a boy, when he begins to slap his brother or sister or throws tantrums when what he wants wasn’t given. That’s ‘World War IV’.
But after watching the movie Courageous with my wife on Maundy Thursday, it made me pray more and more, asking God for His grace, His wisdom and His strength as a father.
For one, it is a given fact the ills we see in the society today – from street gangs, who at times, cause riots, the drug abuse that is affecting more and more young people and adults, the increasing rate of pre-marital sex, theft and other criminal activities are all linked to how kids were raised by their parents, and led by their fathers in particular.
Two important things I learned from the movie Courageous, which I would like to share to you today:
- Lead by example: We’ve heard the oft-repeated saying, ‘more is caught than taught’. That’s true because when I say something at home, good or bad, negative or positive, my kids easily catch it and say it.
I am certainly not a perfect father. One time, out of stress due to work and the daily grind of life, I unknowingly disciplined my son David out of anger.
As I see him cry, I felt a gentle nudge by God, reminding me that what the way I administered the rod didn’t come from a loving spirit.
I quickly prayed to God and asked for forgiveness, knowing that I disciplined my son out of anger, and not with the Biblical pattern of pointing him his mistake and lovingly reminding him of God’s word and restoring him.
And what’s next, was saying sorry to my son David and asking that he forgive me.
David forgave me when I humbly asked for it, and what’s next, was the feeling of freedom, knowing that the bottom line of disciplining and raising kids, is not a matter of do’s and don’ts.
Instead, the daily goal is to point them back to God and letting them know that dads are there to lead and provide an environment of love and care.
2. Love God’s word: Seeing our kids grow up and become responsible, God-loving citizens of our society happens when we learn to teach them God’s word while they are young.
Kids are like sponge. They absorb the things we teach them easily.
Teach them to say ‘sorry’, they will grow up learning to own up for their mistake and saying sorry when they realize they hurt someone.
Teach them the importance of saying ‘thank you’, and they will grow up with gratitude for the blessings they receive everyday.
But when they regularly see in our families a culture of discord, hatred and unforgiveness, chances are high, they will grow up acquiring all that.
I’m reminded of a passage in Deuteronomy 6:4-8 in the New Living Translation –
4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a] 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.
That passage reminds us to teach the word of God to our kids on a regularly basis. It encourages us parents to make the study of God’s word a lifestyle.
But the study of God’s word begins with us fathers and mothers.
Our children won’t just grow up loving God’s word and reading it and studying it everyday.
They will need our help so we can guide them and point them to the One who can transform them lives and help them fulfill their God-given destinies.