Dads are important too, when raising teens
My friend’s seventeen year old daughter looked at me and said, “I made a mistake and now I’m pregnant.” Mom joined in stating, “We don’t know what to do. We have not even told her boyfriend.” I said to them, “She is not pregnant alone. Dad is equally important and has a right to know that his girlfriend is pregnant.” Society as a whole always thinks moms are more important when it comes to raising kids. I will never dispute the significance of mom’s role, but growing up without a dad myself I know that dads are very important too.
1. Dad’s role in leading his children in faith
I once told a teen who was questioning his faith to think of God as his father and to communicate with him just like he would his earthly dad. He responded “I really can’t talk to God then.” It turns out he had a very difficult relationship with his father who was not very affectionate and never really knew how to communicate with his children. The sad thing was it was not his fault either. That is how he had been raised. Fathers are truly important in leading their children to God. If you are loving, compassionate, affectionate and tolerant and you forgive your teens when they offend you, then they begin to have a perception of what their father in heaven is like. So what if you did not grow up that way? It’s never too late to learn. The first thing to do is to improve your relationship with your father in heaven and then to look for resources to help you do things differently. It could be counseling or talking to a friend or another father that you admire. It may seem strange to change how you communicate with your children initially but with time and practice it will become more natural and easy to do. The rewards are amazing. You are not changing the life of your children alone but the lives of all the future generations. To me, it truly is worth it.
2. Dad’s relationship with mom
In this day of “baby mamas” and “baby daddies” our teens are growing up with the perception that it’s okay to simply spread their gene pool around. This is really sad indeed and we are going to have a generation of teens who don’t have any idea of what it means to be in a real relationship with another person. It’s important for dads to show their children that they respect their moms, whether they are married to them or not. We are our teens’ first role models and they will treat their future spouses the way they see their parents interact. Dad’s should treat their spouses or significant others with love and respect and appreciate them as equal partners in the relationship, whether they work outside the home or not. Parents must value each other’s opinion. Remember the saying “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Allow your women to discover their inner greatness and yes, you will be surprised at how outstanding you will become yourself. Show your teens that their mom is important and loved and they will also have great relationships themselves.
3. Dad’s relationship with his teens.
I always remember my daughter attending her first father daughter dance. It was the highlight of her day. She got a great outfit and wanted to look her best for dad and she smiled so proudly in her pictures. My dad died when I was only eight years old and looking at her reminded me so much of all that my siblings and I missed. My boys enjoyed rough housing with their dad when they were younger and they always looked to him for approval as they grew up and made their way in life. The joy a child feels on the playground when they say “look at me dad” or “see what I can do” never dies. It just expresses itself in different ways. Daughters learn how boys should treat them from how their dads treated them and sons learn how to relate to other people and to girls from watching dad’s interaction with them and with their sisters and moms. What about children who for one reason or other don’t have a dad? We live in a society where there are so many role models to learn from. There are family members who could fill that role and teens learn so much from their coaches or friend’s dads and sometimes from celebrities. It is important that in our anxiety to provide male role models for our teens, moms do not allow men of less than sterling character into their lives and homes. This can have a negative and sometimes devastating effect on the family as a whole.
4. What about the teen dad?
Whenever there is a teen pregnancy, the girl is often times left holding the short end of the stick and the teenage boy sometimes conveniently forgets that he fathered a child. We need to encourage our sons if they find themselves in this situation, to man up and assume responsibility for their actions. It is helpful that sometimes the parents of the teens assume responsibility for the baby but I think it is equally important that the teens themselves realize and accept their roles as parents and do what is best for the child. This teaches our sons and daughters responsibility and they then become effective role models for their child.
Dads are so important when raising children. Teens learn to love and develop great self-esteem when they have an effective male role model in their lives. Dads should be comfortable showing their teens the value of love, compassion and affection. Real men do show their emotions. An effective dad on earth sets the stage for a great relationship with his children, his significant other and teaches teens about the love our heavenly father has for them. Dads, you are important. Embrace your role and live it fully.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
~ Proverbs 22:6
You will enjoy this Father’s Day video from a church here in Texas.