While we were conducting business in Earl’s office recently, prominently displayed on his desk was a picture of him and his wife in a creative, unconventional pose.
Only with a second closer look could be seen a little mite of humanity--their week-old daughter.
Bursting with pride, he proceeded to show us pictures on his phone of the three of them, and of little Earline, now one year old, alert, bright-eyed, healthy and happy--clearly beloved. Commenting with conviction he effused, “Having her has made me take a 180-degree turn in my life. And it’s all good!”
Our business sunk into insignificance compared to his joy that lit up the whole room. His expression of such unabashed delight in fatherhood is truly heartwarming. My husband and I recall that magical moment repeatedly and wish this little family joy all along the journey of parenting.
Ancient words given to fathers provide guidance in moving forward effectually through the years of parenting (which never really end).
First: The most vital factor to preserve a secure, happy family is for the father to love the mother of his children. Solomon, the wisest man in history wrote: “Rejoice with the wife of thy youth.” (Proverbs 5:18).
Second: Tender, gentle, early, faithful training of the child’s unformed character is crucial. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).
Third: In the difficult years, when a child’s autonomy begins to expand, it’s imperative for the parent to be mature enough to recognize when to apply pressure, when to allow spontaneous development, and when to impose firm boundaries. It’s almost like a tight-rope walk at times. “Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).
Fourth: Regardless of any choices your children make as they leave the home nest, constantly assure them of your unconditional love for them, even if you are disappointed and disapprove of their choices. The challenges of parenting require us to mature in patience, and in seeking to exhibit the unquenchable love God proffers us, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3).
Our heavenly Father God is invested in parenting us, His earthly children, so He knows the anxieties and cares of parents. Therefore He communicates His comforting assurance, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13).