Dads Deliver Messages All the Time

by John K. Ream

Happy Father's Day to all the dads and granddads out there! You hold special honor and duty to your children and grandchildren. God has called you to love and care for them.

Here are some reminders of dad's role:

Fathers are always center stage. You never know when a test might present itself, so it is important that you live up to the standards you want your offspring (kids and grandkids) to follow. You can't afford to cheat on your income tax, lie to your wife or boss, or be rude with a salesperson, because that type of behavior sends the message that dad doesn't practice what he preaches.

You can't live by a double standard. You can't be one way when the kids are around and another way when they aren't. Your inconsistencies are sure to bleed through. Decide to make right judgments using the Ten Commandments as a yardstick (see Exodus 20). To be a Christian father is a call to excellence. Don't settle for anything less.

Center your life on Jesus Christ. Your problems won't go away (although many will), but you will have a Companion during those troublesome times.

Children, from toddler age on, are constantly watching dad. Children are observing how you manage your temper, repay rudeness with kindness, share household tasks, and handle emergencies. Those values and good habits will be molded into the moist clay of their characters.

Make memories. Every day you spend with your children is a time to pass on wisdom, experience the joys of fellowship, and to make memories. Make sure that some of those memories reflect your reliance on God, your love of Scripture, and your passion for prayer.

Your lifestyle is the lesson. Your relationship with your wife is probably the most important area in which to let the kids see an example you want them to follow. Even if you are divorced, the way you treat their mother is a valuable lesson for their future relationships. Do you display respect, kindness, and communication? Is your home warm, loving, interesting, and fun? Along with your wife, pick an area of service for your family, matching it to your time and talents. Let your kids see mom and dad helping others. Better yet, let your children, in their own small way, enter into the process.

Acknowledge your mistakes. It's inevitable that you will make mistakes, hurting feelings without meaning to do so, have misunderstandings, and have promises you've failed or been unable to keep. If you've goofed, admit it sincerely and ask forgiveness.

Repair any damage. Offset hurts before they can take root and do harm: love notes and dates with dad can make a child feel special. Real communication takes time so reserve blocks of time without distraction when you can talk with your child.

Don't take chances. Where your loved ones are concerned, be certain that they understand how important and loved they are-even when discipline is necessary.

From Velvet & Steel by John Ream. Copyright 1997 by Resource Publications, Inc., San Jose, Calif., 1-888-273-7782. Used by permission.

John K. Ream, a former Marine and a retired bank president, attended a retreat in 1971 that changed his life. He began leading Effective Father Seminars in the early 1980s and continues to do so. Now a grandfather, he lives in Florida with his wife, Rita.