Fathers play a significant role in fostering emotional, cognitive, language, and motor development in the lives of their young children. Research shows that fathers strengthen the development of their kids when they take an active role early and often in their lives. Simply put, dads are great teachers!
But two questions emerge: (1) What are we supposed to teach? (2) How are we supposed to teach it?
As I was researching the answers to these questions, I did what any good theologian and researcher would do, I went straight to social media and threw a question out on Facebook. I asked my audience, “What did your dad teach you?” Here are some of my favorite responses.
“My dad taught me”:
- Nothing good happens after midnight
- Work ethic
- How to catch a fish and cook a fish
- Be honest
- How to “style my hair”
- Dozens of responses about dads teaching us something about our car!
What does Scripture say regarding what we should teach our kids?
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says, “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Dads, all the lessons I gathered on Facebook are great but what really matters is that we teach our kids to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and strength. So many life lessons flow from this command.
I heard it once said, we can teach our kids to keep their eye on the ball but if they fail to keep their eyes on Jesus we’ve taught them nothing at all. So if that’s what we are supposed to teach them then the next question is, “How are we supposed to teach them?”
How are we supposed to teach them?
Thankfully Scripture provides an answer. We teach them when we sit, when we walk, when we talk, when we lie down, get up…. we are supposed to teach them in everyday life.
But men, for us to instruct our kids, we must spend time with them. The Pew Research Center surveyed thousands of kids across the US and here is what they found: 53% of teenagers spent less than 30 minutes a day with their fathers.
Think about that – half the kids in the US spend less than half an hour a day with their dad. Fathers, this is so important because as the old saying goes, “much more is ‘caught’ than taught.”
In other words, your children won’t just learn the things you teach them intentionally; they will glean much more from the things you have no idea you are teaching.
This includes your words—how you speak to and about their mom and others. Your temperament—how you respond to their shortcomings and your own as well. Even your daily habits are teaching them something.
This truth is echoed in the wisdom of the Proverbs: “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26). Fathers, you are great teachers! No one can take your place. Teach your children.