The book, The Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers by Ken Canfield, suggest seven “secrets” or aspects of a father’s role. Effective fathers raise spiritually and emotionally mature children. If we want to be effective fathers we need to think about these and act on them.
- Commitment. Fathers need to commit to the role of husband and father and recognize its importance. Our society faces a great deal of fatherlessness. In 1950, 3.9% of all births were by unmarried women. In 2005, that number has risen to 36.8%. 70% of juvenile delinquents are from fatherless homes. In a practical way, fathers must plan time with the family and balance busy priorities.
- Know your child. We need to know developmental stages of children, but we also need to know our children as individuals. Who are their friends? What are their interests? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their days like? We do this to protect them, encourage them, and show affection to them.
- Be Consistent. Children need to see strong character in their father. He should practice what he preaches. He should demonstrate emotional maturity being able to govern his own moods and behavior. He should be consistent in his word. In other words, he keeps the promises that he makes.
- Protect and Provide. If there is a noise in the middle of the night, who gets up to check on it and who stays under the covers by the phone? I suspect that in most two-parent homes, Dad is the one who gets up to check, and protection is a good masculine trait. Providing for our families is an important spiritual truth. Consider the following passages: Genesis 2:5, 3:17, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10, Ephesians 4:28, 1 Timothy 5:8, and Matthew 7:9-11 (an analogy between human fathers and our Heavenly Father).
- Love Their Mother. Paul stresses the importance of husbands loving their wives. The husband should love his wife as Christ loved the church. He should love and care for his wife as he loves himself (Ephesians 5:25-33).
- Listen Actively. Children want attention from their father. Misbehavior sometimes is directed at getting attention any way they can. Fathers need to be reminded to listen actively. We need to put down our phone or tablet, turn off the TV, and rid ourselves of distractions so that we can listen.
- Equip Spiritually. Bringing a life into the world is a big responsibility, but it pales in comparison to the fact that this life also has an eternal destination. Fathers should be spiritual leaders equipping their children spiritually. See Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Psalm 78:1-8, and Ephesians 6:4.