At one point in the film, Joe Kingman (Johnson) is having a conversation with his newly-found daughter's ballet teacher, Monique, played by Roslyn Sanchez. Monique tells him to "never underestimate the power of the father." She then begins to tell him all the things that a father can do, things that obviously had a strong impact on her growing up.
The Bible spends a lot of time talking about fathers. The world has done a pretty good job of emasculating fathers lately. Ever see a father on TV? They are usually either absent, abusive, or just plain dumb. Even the supposed "good role model" fathers - guys like Eric Camden on 7th Heaven or Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show come across as confused, weak and at the mercy of their wives and children.
Where are all the strong fathers? While there is no doubt that the Camden and Huxtable children love their fathers and are impacted in many positive ways by them, to me there is still something missing. While I have no problems with a strong, confident, intelligent woman - after all, I married one - there still needs to be a special place in the family for the father. God holds fathers especially accountable. When that judgement comes, when we stand tall before Him and answer for who we are, it will be us that gets the questions about the children.
So here are a couple of quick tips and thoughts in no particular order :
- Be there. Generations past considered the role of the father to be a good provider. Often this meant that the father was a workaholic, putting in sixty or seventy hours a week, and then too exhausted to do anything else. Men, we've got to be there, in the house, at the games, at the concerts, at church. No excuses.
- Be there their whole lives. Fatherhood does not stop at fifteen, or eighteen or twenty-one. It's a lifetime commitment. The dynamic may change, and your role may be lessened. But you still need to be a father, all the time.
- You are not their best friend. Friendship is friendship. Fatherhood is fatherhood. While you should be friends with your kids, this does not replace parenthood. You still need to make the tough choices.
- Let kids be kids. Kids need to get dirty, get sick, and make bad choices. You're not helping them by making choices for them. You help them by guiding them to good choices. Sometimes this means letting them make bad choices. It shows you trust them, and prepares them for failure. No one succeeds 100% of the time. To paraphrase one of my favorite films, how we face failure is at least as important as how we face success.
- Pray. Pray with them, pray for them, pray over them. 'nuff said.
- Find something to do together. This seems obvious, but many fathers have nothing in common with their children. It can be playing games, sports, music, exercise... whatever. Find something that belongs to you and your child. If you have more than one child, this will keep you very busy. Deal with it.
- Remember that how you treat others (especially family) will be how they treat others. When you mistreat your wife, you are teaching sons that this is how you treat women, and you daughters this is how you should expect to be treated.
- Be a kid. Sometimes you need to get dirty. Play some ball. Climb a tree. Make sure you have good insurance...
This is by no means an exhaustive list. And I do not pretend to be the perfect father. But Proverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." So if this helps one person, it is well worth it.
Now go get busy.