The other day I picked up my three-year-old daughter from daycare, and when I didn’t have her choice song on right when she wanted it, she began to squirm in her seat and started to whine. I wheeled around in the driver seat and raised my voice at her, “Don’t get to whining, now! You need to be patient!” She straightened up.
When she softly told me not to yell at her, I told her to not deserve it, and I imagined the face my wife would’ve been making at me had she been there.
Now, all of my responses to Addy were intentional. I didn’t raise my voice out of anger or frustration, but out of authority. I wasn’t being cheeky when I told her she’d deserved it, I was telling her the truth as a warning for the future. I deliberately chose my responses.
Sometimes, I find myself parenting on purpose: times like that. Other times, I catch myself parenting by accident.
A parent’s number one responsibility to their children is to teach them. That is what makes education professionals so valuable: they fill in the holes for parents. However, you could surround your child with the best teachers available, but their most important teacher would still be you. That’s why you can really drop the ball if you don’t stop yourself every now and then and ask, What am I teaching my kids?
I’ve had the book of Proverbs on my to-do list for a while now, and I began to dig into it the other night as I sat at the coffee table in our apartment. My three-year-old ran laps around the living room with a mouthful of her dinner falling out down her chin because she was jumping around out of excitement for whatever was on the TV, only taking breaks to ask me what I was doing.
“Reading my Bible.” I informed her…multiple times.
“Why?” (Multiple times.)
“Because that’s how God talks to me. We should all read our Bible so God can talk to us.” (Just a couple of times.)
Sometimes, I find myself parenting on purpose. Other times, I catch myself parenting by accident: times like these. And now as my daughter begs me to get up off the floor to fetch her Bible, I’m glad that what Addy is learning from me is the importance of reading the Bible.
I remember several times I’d catch my father at the dining room table, in the middle of the night, with one hand supporting his weary head and the other hand guiding his eyes through the scriptures. Often, I’d come home from school and he’d be walking the floor, praying so earnestly that he would miss me coming into the house. When he’d be frustrated or get angry throughout the day, he would get his heart right as soon as he realized it and would openly repent. It would be awkward, but I always knew he was a man I wanted to imitate. I don’t think, though, that he ever gave much thought to portraying himself a certain way for my sister and I, except maybe to better himself. If I can identify with all fathers everywhere in one way, it’s wanting to be better for the sake of one’s family.
When I finally did get into Proverbs, phrases like “My son…” and “…the Fear of the Lord…” caught my attention. They took me back to when Moses told all the people that God had taught them for a reason. His teachings and statutes would serve them by escorting them into the fulfillment of the promises He had made to them. The promises He made them would become reality only if they held to the standards He set for them. Every standard He set for them had a corresponding blessing that went with it and fulfilled a promised He made to them. That is how God makes good on His word. He had a plan to get His people to where they needed to be.He has a plan to get me where I need to be. And I know He also has a plan to get you where you need to be. How is He going to get us where we need to be? By teaching us. By being our teacher. By being our Father. He is the perfect Father, and I’m grateful for the fantastic father He gave me in this life.
I often sit back and take inventory of the things I’m teaching my daughter, and I don’t compare them to what my dad taught me, but what God taught me through my dad. God was preparing me to be Adalynn’s father through Johnny being my earthly father.
I wonder what else He is preparing me for.