We recognize stages of marriage; here we will examine the stages of Fatherhood. From birth to 8 years old – you are the most important man in your child’s life, from 9-16 your relationship will wane and the mom may play the dominant role (especially with girls), from 17-24 – you will wonder where the kids went. Join us to understand how to cope with these stages.
Our objective in this discussion is to better recognize and deal with the various stages of lives that our children are going through so we can better respond as a parent/father to help them develop and to give us a chance, as fathers, to enhance and preserve our relationship with our children.
Parenting an infant/toddler
· “The challenge for first-time dads is learning how to be patient and to be a server. Infants and toddlers feel like their world revolves around them and it does — they need to be taken care of and can’t do things on their own.”
· Prioritize. People tell you a baby will change your life but until it actually happens to you, it’s hard to comprehend the time and investment but also the joy.
· Keep your sense of humor. A dad who laughs when his son wakes him up 50 times a night, accidentally sprays him in face with urine, and poops in the tub will be a happier dad.
· Being an involved dad means changing diapers, feeding and disciplining from the beginning. That kind of dad will also remain more involved when his child is a teen.
· Support mom. She’s overwhelmed. Make time for each other.
· Play with your child. Dads tend to be less verbal and more hands-on, and research suggests that’s important for children.
· Take an interest in whatever your child is interested in: If you have a daughter who loves to dress up, do some make-believe with her, have a tea party.
· Read to your child starting at a very young age. Cuddle when you read: Touch is huge in terms of attachment — hug, kiss, hold hands.
Parenting school-age kids
· “These are formative years, the time when a child develops trust issues, social interaction, overall personality. The challenge is to be consistent, provide security, establish routines. Older dads regret they didn’t spend enough time with their children. Fathers mistakenly feel that their most important task as a father is to work and earn money.” Kids will ask 500,000 questions before they are 15 years old. That’s a lot of opportunities to teach about life.
· Spend time alone with your kids.
· Laugh with your kids. Enjoy the child within yourself.
· Teach independence, confidence, competition and self-reliance.
· Teach an appreciation for the outdoors and respect for nature.
· Keep promises. Dads are role-models for strength and accountability in the family.
· Never use sarcasm and ridicule to discipline. Be fair and consistent.
· Use words and tone of voice wisely. Teach children to respect you, not fear you.
· Be consistent. Don’t laugh at bad behavior and then punish the same behavior later.
· Role model love. Love the children’s mother and demonstrate it. Children raised in loving environments fare better in all aspects of life.
· “There are tremendous pressures on teens that were not there in the previous generations. At times the adolescent seems to have it all together and then five minutes later does something impulsive and unbelievably childish. The teenage years are a time when children are practicing how to be an adult. Remember that their friends are their world.”
· One of the foremost challenges for fathers is to keep pace with a changing society that increasingly blends traditional parental roles of provider and nurturer. A father can offer his girls the opportunity to learn that men can treat women with respect/dignity. He can show his sons that he can be an athlete, businessman, scientist who is also a feeling person.
· Listen more than talk, and try to listen to their friends too.
· Talk to them about their goals and encourage them to live their dreams.
· If you are not good at something for which they need help, help them find someone who is.
· Attend some if not all of their events — especially if they are performing or playing a sport.
· Have one-on-one time with each of your children even if it only 10 minutes a couple of times per week. Play and laugh as well as have the difficult conversations.
Parenting an adult child
· “Fathers often forget that their offspring actually is an adult. Parents tend to lapse into old patterns that renew the parent-child dichotomy rather than enlisting the adult-to-adult transactions that are so empowering. This is exacerbated by the fact that the child also forgets that he/she is an adult. It is a very common dynamic that adult children, when in the presence of their parents, actually regress to a former stage of development.”
· Remember that most adult children do not need parenting per se. They need to be in the presence of mature adults who can be wisdom figures. Remember that your child is a budding individual who will learn from trial and error. Do not expect your 20-year-old adult child to carry the knowledge and wisdom of your 50-year-old self.
· Remember the choices we may think of as “mistakes” are really part of the learning curve. Help your offspring accept this and accept their choices (which may carry harsh consequences) as learning opportunities.
· Listen to your adult children and have compassion for what they are undergoing. Try to remember what it was like for you at whatever stage of their life they are in before jumping in with advice-giving.
· Create some clear boundaries with yourself so you can be emotionally supporting without feeling you must rescue your children from the lessons they may be in the middle of learning. This will be most empowering for your children, and this will require great patience on your part.
· Learn to let go of the outcome. If you are involved in your adult child’s life in such a way that you try to orchestrate any outcome, you are probably guilty of projecting your own wants/needs/desires onto your children. Although it seems loving, it may circumvent their independence and personal journey. Each of us must find our own way.
· Many adults are returning “home” as they are unable to find work or otherwise are unable to fully support themselves or their families. In such situations many parents have legitimate and pressing questions on how to “be” with their adults kids. In these situations it is helpful for communication about expectations be forthcoming — clear yet flexible.
· If you get stuck in wanting to “fix” things for your children, try this: Take a quiet breath and then ask in a loving and inquisitive tone: What are you going to do? This pre-empts the idea that the parent is responsible for finding a way out of the quagmire. (Note that this works in other relationships as well.)
1. Deuteronomy 11:19 ESV
You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
2. Colossians 3:20 ESV
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
1. Paragraph 2214
The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents. The respect of children, whether minors or adults, for their father and mother is nourished by the natural affection born of the bond uniting them. It is required by God’s commandment.
Small Group Questions
1. Where are your children in the stage of their life/your relationship?
2. Have you considered what you can do to leverage today’s lesson to improve your relationship with your child?
1. This would be a good week to talk to your spouse about this lesson – what is your plan?