What every little boy and girl longs for
Fathers are the most powerful men in their children’s lives. What we do with this incredible privilege will shape their beliefs about themselves and the world and largely determine the trajectory of their lives. Every boy longs to be mentored by his father; every girl longs to be adored by her dad.
Well-known actress, Halle Berry, is quoted as saying, “I know that I will never find my father in any other man who comes into my life, because it is a void in my life that can only be filled by him”.
A father is his daughter’s first romance and his son’s first hero. He is their first, most important experience of who and what a man is. We set the bar, we are the example, and if we get it right we leave our children with a priceless gift. Impressed into their psyche and souls is the knowledge of a man as a strong, loving sanctuary, a place where there is safety and fun and affirmation. And they will live their lives out of this reservoir of grace and strength. Our sons are more likely to grow up honourable men, treating women with respect and caring for their own families. Our daughters are more likely to grow up as women of stature, making good choices and building strong families of their own.
Being the most important man in someone’s life is a privilege that comes with profound responsibilities.
Your children will come to you to answer the deepest questions of their hearts. Throughout their developing years they will ask you a thousand times and in a thousand different ways to answer key questions about themselves that no-one else can answer quite like you can. Answer well and you will lay an unshakeable foundation for your children’s emotional well-being and character. Answer badly or don’t answer at all and you will wound them and quite possibly set them up for a lifetime of emotional struggle.
Failing to answer the deep questions of your son’s heart will result in him seeking affirmation for his manhood in countless damaging ways, some involving the abuse of his strength, some involving addictions and some involving withdrawal. Failing to answer the deep questions of your daughter’s heart will result in her seeking the answers from other men in ways that will compromise her and almost always lead to heartache.
A few days after my son Luke was born, I fell in love with him and with fathering him. (It took a few days because – let’s be honest – babies are seldom pretty when they first enter the world and as biased as I am, my son was no exception!) I remember being overwhelmed with emotion driving with Luke strapped into his baby seat next to me as I sang along to Bryan Adam’s ballad “So if I love you, a little more than I should; please forgive me I know not what I do”. No-one had warned me of the depth of emotion that I would experience for my young boy. A new love had been born, one greater than anything I could have anticipated. What was different about this love was that the object of it was a vulnerable life entirely incapable of surviving by itself.
I felt such a sense of responsibility that my survival instinct increased tenfold. Suddenly all the crazy things that I had always been prone to do, such as leaping out of a perfectly functioning plane or roaring down a wild river in a flimsy raft, took on a whole new perspective as my need to stay alive and well to look after my son superseded all else.
Fatherhood has made me more vulnerable than any other experience. It has humbled me, healed me and transformed me. It has brought me tears of joy on more occasions than I can remember; sleepless nights, worry, fear and pride. It has given me a reason to live when times have been tough; it has inspired me to live right when I was tempted to lose my bearings.
I certainly haven’t got it all right. Like every father before me and every one still to come, I entered fatherhood as a flawed and wounded man. Yet fatherhood offered me the opportunity and inspiration to look in the mirror and see what I might otherwise never have seen. It gave me the reason I needed to change what needed to change. It made me realise what I had not received growing up and the hurt and lack that this had caused, and it inspired me to find healing for myself so that I could give my children all that they needed from me.
– A reading from ‘Dad, Discover the Power of Fatherhood’