13 September 2019

How do we share our values with our children?

My friend Durk holds three nationalities, speaks seven languages and knows that the ability to communicate effectively is a key skill, certainly for his life and work on the political fringes of the European Union in Brussels. Although he’s not a Christian, he’s convinced that his children should hear the Bible stories and ultimately make up their own minds about such things, so when they were young he read the Bible to them regularly.

Durk’s example has been both a challenge and an inspiration for me in my role as a father to my daughter Laura. What are the values and beliefs that I want to pass on? And how can I do that well?

Here are two stereotypical views of how a father may be:

  • Dad has strong views and will brook no argument in communicating those views to his children.
  • Dad sees both sides to every issue and tends to abdicate large chunks of his parenting role to his wife/partner.

These are the extremes, and the reality for most of us as dads is that we try to navigate the middle ground between these positions. If we can, then there is a reasonable chance that our children will not become completely monosyllabic towards us when they hit their teens, and that they might come to accept and own for themselves some of our core values and beliefs.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Homegrown Conference, here are three tips that I’ve learnt myself or gathered from chatting with other dads:

  1. Express yourself – younger children love to tell you what they’ve been doing, and also to hear what you’ve been up to, however mundane it may appear. Emotions are important so be willing to tell your children how you feel and how it relates to your faith.
  2. Pray together – try to establish one simple prayer routine into your family life. Even if it’s simply thanking God by saying grace over the main meal of the day, or a short prayer at bedtime.
  3. Have one to one time with each of your children – OK, so it’s easy for me to say this as a dad of one child. But from the rough-and-tumble play that helps us bond with our toddler, through the times when you teach them to ride a bike, and on into the time when they are finding their own way, just being available on a regular and reliable basis will nurture the love between you and your child, one to one.

And rest assured, you don’t need to master seven languages to be a great dad!

Tony Sharp, Project Manager of Who Let The Dads Out? at Care for the Family

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