My name is Matt. I have three great little kids. I have Zeeky – 6, Isaac – 4 and Leila – 2. I have a beautiful wife Jasmine and we have a pretty happy family.
You can never know what it is like to ride the roller coaster of parenthood until you are right there in the moment. All of the ups and downs, the pain, the joy, the hurt, the guilt, the sleepless nights or the beautiful smiles on their faces. I have been asked to share 5 keys to fathering that I have discovered over the last 7 years and although they won’t be the same for everyone, hopefully these will be a good reminder of what successful fathering can look like. I actually looked up some tips and advice pages on what to say when giving this presentation, but they were mostly pretty lame and they were all about how to raise young babies, so I had to think of these for myself.
Number ONE: Love your spouse
Being a great father really starts in the way that you care for your wife. I am always trying to show my wife that I love her and care for her. In Ephesians 5: 25 it says “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her”
Being a great role model really has to start at this point, because the foundation for a great relationship with your kids is a strong and loving relationship with your wife. This doesn’t just mean saying “I love you” but by acting it out. Constantly. And yes it can be hard. We want the best for our kids, I think we can all agree on that but you can’t expect them to be the people you want them to be without acting it out for them. They need a role model to follow and they are constantly watching us. This means for us as Fathers and men, we have to be the best version of our self, to the best that we can, day in day out.
Number TWO: Give as much grace as you can
As a Christian, Grace is defined as “The free and unmerited favour of God”. This means God has showed us favour, even though we didn’t deserve it. We can’t earn it, and we are chasing the wind if we think we can. This has to be a daily occurrence for us in our fathering lives as well. I don’t know if it is just my family ( or just my kids) but I constantly find myself having to take a deep breath and just trying to let it go. Whenever people ask for my advice of being a dad, or being a husband, this is always the first thing that I think of. When I think of having grace, I constantly define it as believing the best in the other person. And we all need this in our families. We need someone to believe the best in us. I need someone to believe the best in me because we don’t really have that kind of relationship outside of our 4 walls at home.
Number THREE: Eliminate distractions and be available
his is probably the hardest topic that most of us face. I know, love and grace are some pretty big topics to cover but for me, I know that my kids just love spending time as a family. Now I can’t speak for everyone here, I can only speak for my experience. There is probably a few people in the room that couldn’t disagree more with the whole “my kids want to spend time with me” idea. But you are probably quite a few steps further down this fatherhood journey than me.
Social Media love it or hate it, it is a distraction. It can be fun, it can be addictive, it can be harmless as well. It is all about finding the balance. But it isn’t just social media; our phones in general are a huge distraction. Maybe it is making sure the house is in clean and tidy, or watching Netflix. Watching sport or I don’t know doing whatever it is girls do with their free time. I’m not quite sure. Usually because I’m watching sport or looking at my phone.
But we have to prioritise our kids and I know that I have to take the role of being a father seriously, because I’m only going to get one go at it. If my kids grow up and they never feel nurtured and loved, if they never feel that their father wanted to spend time with them and never cared about what they cared about, well first of all, how devastating would that be to know as a parent, but how detrimental would that be to our kids life and how they treat their family and their kids as well. We must make them a priority. We have heaps of time. Every day! We just need to find out what is taking up our priorities. I’m no expert in this but I did quit my job so that I could see my kids more and make them more of a priority. I gave up the 1 thing that I was good at because I knew that being a father meant more to me than having a good career. And to be honest, kids don’t care what job their dad has, they only care about if he is around, and if he loves them and if he wants to spend time with them.
Number FOUR: Help Out
Mum's need help, because being a mum, is hard. And it isn’t a woman’s job to do all the housework, just the same as it isn’t a just the husbands role. But the appreciation that you show your family by helping out will shoulder the burden and it will help form more of a team mentality throughout your family. There isn’t too much more that needs to be said. Just jump in and make sure that helping out around the home is a priority of yours. I just want to add, that these are keys to being a good dad. Being a dad isn’t easy at many times, but these are tips to try and help stay the course, so that you can have a life that God intended for us.
Number FIVE: Give yourself a break
In our family, it is in everyone’s best interest that when it is time for the adults to take a break, that they actually do so. For us this could include a date night, going for some time out at the movies, for my wife it is going to netball on a Wednesday, for me it is bible college on a Thursday or soccer on the weekends. It’s OK to take a break from the kids, and it is healthy to take a break from the kids as well. It is good for your relationships everywhere! Coming back from a break always leaves us feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Ready to take on the daily grind of parenting duties again. It makes you just that bit happier to get up and pack school lunches or ask for the 100th time to do the homework. It can even give you strength to persist in that battle of getting the kids to finish the vegetables on their plate.
2 Samuel 19: 31-40 – This story talks about a fathers love for his own son. He didn’t want everything that the King had to offer. He only wanted the best for his son. He was happy to just die in his own town, knowing that he had run his race, and that his son was in good favour with the king. He just wanted his son to be happy. Just like we want our kids to be happy. We want to see them to grow up and do amazing things. We want to support and love them and we absolutely want the best for them. We would do anything for them, and nothing could replace them in a million years. It gets me thinking, how much more does God love us. He not only created us, but he created us in his own image. In the likeness of God. He created us with purpose and passion and he loves us unconditionally. He just wants the best for us. Just like Barzillai. He wants nothing more than for you to succeed in the plans he has for you and he will love you unconditionally, even more than we will ever know.