Three “Rivers” of Capturing Your Children’s Heart

This is the final of 4 posts that have been taken from Chapter 7 of The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick.

How fathers capture childrens heartsHow Fathers Capture Their Children’s Hearts

Regardless of the age of our kids, we need to throw on the brakes and start spending more “heart to heart” time with them. Even if they’re not receptive initially. Even if trust needs to be rebuilt. Even if your children are grown and gone, your pursuit of their hearts must still go on.

It’s time to turn the corner. To remember that teaching your children to love God cannot happen when you’re not loving them well yourself. It’s time to clear out all the noise and discontent that’s created so much uncomfortable space between you and your children. Here are three powerful rivers that need to be unleashed and allowed to flow freely from your heart to theirs.

Attention

Too many moments at home have found us busy while our children have waited in the shadows. They won’t wait forever. Too often we’ve allowed good things to steal us away from the best things—those priceless, unrecoverable moments with our kids while they’re growing up. We have a culture of men who ignore and don’t talk to their children. And this needs to change starting now.

We should daily engage them, laugh with them, comfort them, and walk with them throughout life. “Tell me how you are doing.” “What have you been up to lately?” “What are you most excited about right now?” These are questions dads should ask often. We should make it clear to them that they can always come to us and talk about anything.

Some fathers take each of their children out for breakfast for a little one-on-one time with Dad. Daughters love date nights, and sons relish a “Men’s Night Out.” Whether it’s riding bikes together, reading books, playing sports, or sitting at a coffee shop, time out with Dad can open up conversations you wouldn’t usually have at home with your kids.

Brooks Adams, son of Charles Adams, U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain under the Lincoln Administration, was only eight years old when he wrote in his diary one afternoon, “Went fishing with my father; the most glorious day of my life.” Unaware of this, his dad also kept a diary, and he too had marked a comment about that same day and event. “Went fishing with my son; a day wasted.”  He missed the significance of that day.

How many more days might they have spent together if the father knew how much it meant to his little boy? How many times have we considered it a “waste” to push our kids on the swing at the playground or to bring them a snack and a kiss on the head while they’re busy doing homework? Yet we find time to watch television, or surf the Web, or whatever else we deem valuable and necessary to us. We need to look back at Scripture, understand the job God has given us, and redefine the difference between “wasted” time and priceless investments.

Affirmation

Both children and adults want the approval and praise from their dads. They want their father’s “blessing” in their lives. To bless means, “to speak well of”. When you bless your children, you are lovingly using your God-given authority to verbally affirm them toward future success.

God told Moses that the high priest should bless the sons of Israel by saying, “The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24–26). Then God said, “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”(vs. 27)

When Jesus was baptized, a voice from heaven said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:11). God the Father was publicly affirming His Son by speaking love and acceptance over Him. He also invested in Jesus at that moment by sending His Holy Spirit down to Him. This not only encouraged Jesus but set Him up for complete success to do the will of His heavenly Father throughout His earthly ministry.

As you learn to do this, it will be a powerful experience for your children. It is important that you communicate to them, “You are my son (daughter) and I dearly love you. I am very pleased with you.” You should then follow up by investing in their future. You should pray for them, encourage them, introduce them to the right people, and give them what they need to help them to be successful.  Even adult men and women long for their father’s blessing if they never received it growing up.

If you didn’t receive your father’s blessing, then you must discover that men who are surrendered to Jesus Christ share in the blessing Jesus received from His Father. Scripture says “in Him” we are blessed with every spiritual blessing and are “accepted and beloved.” (Ephesians 1:1-14) You must receive this blessing from your Heavenly Father by faith, and then model it to your children. Anytime you greet them or talk to them, your countenance, the look in your eyes and tone of voice either says, “You are a delight to me” or “You are an irritation to me.” You should praise them privately, one-on-one, and publicly in front of others. “That is awesome! You are really good at that,” needs to come from your lips as their biggest cheerleader. Regardless of our past failures, we should step up to do this now!

Affection

Our Heavenly Father pours out His unconditional love on us (Romans 5:5), and so should we to our sons and daughters. What a tragedy to hear grown men confess that their fathers never said they loved them. Whether you received love from your father or not, you need to pour it out affectionately on your kids. Break this chain. Make sure they know deeply in their hearts that you care for them. Hug them, kiss them, hold them close. Interact with them in ways that make them fully see, hear, and feel your love.

A child needs not only the discipline of a father but also his warm affection and tender love. When they are little, tickle them, wrestle with them, carry them proudly on your shoulders. As they grow up, don’t stop embracing them and putting your arm around them.

Boys who feel loved by their dads are bolder, stronger, kinder to others, and more secure in their manhood. Girls who feel valued by their dads are more radiant, less desperate for a boyfriend, and more careful whom they marry. So, invest in them, take them places, flood them with tender affection so there is no question in their minds as to your love for them.

God has given us a powerful and amazing calling to bless our children and grandchildren and to teach them to love Him with all their hearts and lives. But they will not be drawn to believe what we say if we don’t speak it from within the context of a loving relationship with them. Our love touches them deeply and opens their hearts to hear truth and follow their Heavenly Father faithfully. They will likely pass on our blessing to their kids!

So let’s step up to the plate with a new vision for success and knock it out of the park!

 

 

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough  Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011

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What “Ales” You?

by guest blogger, Roy Baldwin (Director of Parenting and Youth Ministries at Focus on the Family)

fatherhood comission - addictions

I was watching a news story about a 19 year old dad, Cesar Ruiz, in Louisiana who gave his 2 month old son alcohol.  The son registered a .289 percent blood alcohol content.  According to the AP report; Col. John Fortunato said Ruiz told authorities he acted to relieve his son’s suffering, and did not mean to kill him. Did not mean to kill him?

When we talk about dads, we quickly refer to all the data out there about the horrible impact on our children and society because of absent dads.  Even if we are there, as this story suggests, we can still make choices and decisions that have horrible consequences.  According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration) National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, seventy six million American adults have been impacted by alcohol in the family. Alcoholism is responsible for more family problems than any other single cause. Do you know someone who struggles with alcohol?

My heart truly goes out to this dad and so many dads out there who struggle being the dad they were created to be for their children.  Men have let addictions to alcohol, drugs, pornography and many other vices shape their ability to cope with stress and suffering in our world and we are actively and passively passing those onto our children.  Proverbs 13:12 states, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  Ultimately our deepest longings can only be fulfilled by Christ.

I remember a few years ago when things drastically changed for me and my family. I was without work, family on public assistance and our housing situation was unstable.  I remember feeling completely stripped as a man of all the vices and comforts of this world until only one thing was left; Christ.  He began rebuilding my heart and my life and put things back in their right place.  I learned to trust Him in ways I never had to before and so did my family.  We began to trust God with the big and small stuff in our lives, and we shared together the comfort we received from Him with others.  He became our Rock.  We often look back on those times as we face new challenges and stresses and remind ourselves that He is faithful and good.

What challenges or trials are you facing?  Are your ultimate longings being met by the Creator who gave them to you or are you having those longings met by things or people who will never be able to deliver?  Do you have a loved one struggling with an addiction? Get help.  Don’t be like Cesar who used his own poor coping mechanisms to relieve his son of pain by offering something that almost killed his son.  There is hope…it’s just not found in a bottle, or relationship, or politics or….you fill in your blank.

Roy Baldwin

Ps.  If you are struggling with an addiction like alcohol, drugs, pornography, or anything else, Focus on the Family has counselors available to talk with you.   http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/14190