Summary: Father’s Day reminds us of parental responsibilities and blessing, as we show our love and acceptance to children in: Our Words, Giving our Time, Sharing Caring Love, and Modelling ourselves on Jesus and our Heavenly Father.
FATHER’S DAY - RESPONSIBILITIES AND BLESSING
Father’s Day started in America, strangely enough by a lady! In 1909, one hundred years ago this lady, by name of Sonora Dodd, was sitting in church one Sunday, listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day. She decided it was only fair to also have a day for fathers. In 1910, she arranged a special church service to say ’thank you’ for own father. Eventually the idea was taken up by the U.S. President and in 1972 President Nixon made it a permanent official day in the calendar on the third Sunday in June.
Father’s Day is celebrated all around the world to say ‘thank you’ to dads, to encourage them in their parental responsibilities. An old English proverb tells how important fathers are. It says: ‘A father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.’ Fathers are often more appreciated at different ages of their children. Mark Twain had the candour to admit a change in his perception of his father: ‘When I was a boy of fourteen, he said, ‘my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to twenty-one, I was astonished how much he had learned in seven years!’
Rob Parsons, the founder of ‘Care for the Family’, asks the question, ‘What is the most important gift a father can give to his child?’ He always gives the same answer: it is his unconditional love and acceptance. The key to a child’s heart is to let him or her know that we love them anyway whatever may have or will happen. There is no more powerful force on the face of the earth for building strong relationships than unconditional love.
Rob Parsons tells the story of his daughter Katie coming home from school. She came running in yelling, ‘Dad, I got 95 per cent in maths!’ Rob had two questions for that little girl: ‘What happened to the five per cent?’ and ‘Where were you in the class order?’ He confesses: ‘I’m not proud of that conversation.’ Of course, every parent should do their utmost to motivate their child and help them achieve their best. He realized that Katie needed to know that his love for her was not based on her accomplishments, but on their relationship. He was her father. In other words, love without strings.
Children can see our love and acceptance of them in:
• OUR WORDS
Acceptance means we will strive to find the good in our children. If we’re not careful, so much of our communication with our children involves catching them doing something wrong and criticizing them for it. A woman was looking back over her rebellious teenage years and struggling to find an answer to why she had reacted in that way. Finally she put it into words: ‘The fastest way to get my dad’s attention was to do something wrong.’ It’s imperative that we catch our children doing something right! We do well to remember the awesome power of praise. There’s hardly a person on the face of the earth who doesn’t respond to it. Most of us know how effective it is in the work situation, but for a child, it can be like rain in the desert.
Of course, there’s two sides to a coin. Children, like all human beings, have an inbuilt desire to do what they want to do which could well be the beginning of the downward slope to wrongdoing. It’s all part of the fallen nature of humanity. Part of parental responsibility is to provide loving discipline. The book of Proverbs gives some sound advice: ‘Train up a child in the way he should go’ – this can’t be disputed – and it goes on ‘and when he is old he will not turn from it’ – but this is subject to the free will which is our choice in life (22:6). The wise man goes on to concede that ‘Folly is bound up in the heart of a child’ (22:15). He urges his readers to: ‘Discipline your son, and he will give you peace’ (29:17). But it all depends how it’s done.
There’s a tragic example of this in the life of Eli, a priest of Israel who lived about 900 years before Christ. He had two sons but he evidently failed to establish discipline over them. In later life, when they followed their father in priestly functions, they weren’t only evil in their personal lives, but they flagrantly disregarded the will of God as they served as leaders in Israel’s worship (1 Sam 2:12-17). Even when their father confronted them - sadly too late - they refused to repent and it led to God’s condemnation and the downfall of themselves and the nation.
How can we strike the right balance? Children see that we love them in: