Fatherhood is on-the-job training. To drive a car, I went through driver’s training and had to pass a test to receive a license. I must confess there are times when I see or read about certain cases, that I think this person shouldn’t have been allowed to procreate without passing a test. But real life doesn’t work that way. We become fathers and then muddle through with on-the-job training.
Resources, however, do exist to aid us. I’ve been blessed with some wonderful examples of Christian manhood and fatherhood. We learn a great deal from seeing it done well. (I suspect that some of the cases in the previous paragraph that I wish had needed a license lacked good role models in their lives.) There is a place for the older to train the younger, to share with the younger.
Books and magazine articles can also help. As a young man, I learned a lot about fatherhood from the books of James Dobson as many of my generation did. The books giving the developmental stages of childhood were also very helpful. It helps to know what to expect at 6 months, a year, and so on. But the greatest help, if we will let it, is the Bible. It contains wisdom: wisdom for being a father, wisdom for life, and wisdom for salvation.
Fatherhood is not always perfect, but it should be principled. I learned there were times I needed to apologize to my children. I’m sure there were a lot of things I could have done better, but I hope there were some principles reflected in my imperfect portrayal of a father. The principle to provide for and protect my family. The principle to love my wife, their mother, as Christ loved the church. The principle to raise our children in the discipline and nurture of the Lord. The need to love my children and be there for them.
Fatherhood is a time sensitive role. Yes, it involves on-the-job training, but there is a real need that we get it together for our children. They are only with us for a short time. Eighteen years seems like a long time until you are in the midst of it. First tooth, first word, first step, first day of school, and all those other firsts pass quickly. Much of what we teach about morality is learned in the first six years. Much of what we teach about spirituality is learned in the first twelve years. Fatherhood is time sensitive.
Fatherhood is a life long role. If you have done your job reasonably well, the relationship with your adult children is a wonderful and rewarding season of life. In most cases, it also leads to a new role: grandfather. May God bless the fathers among us. Fatherhood is important.