Single Father, Not 'Other Parent'
- Thursday, December 05, 2013
Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. –Psalm 90:16
I had conferences for my seven year old daughter a couple weeks ago; always an interesting time for us parents. For the first time ever though, I was joined by her mother and step dad (usually we did separate nights). To stay covered from the enemy’s schemes and avoid any potential conflict, I said a quick prayer beforehand for God’s blessing over the upcoming 15 minutes. While the teacher went through the normal routine of explaining everything, one project stuck out to me considerably more than the rest.
It was one where the kids had to do a short story about a past holiday memory. My daughter chose Christmas of last year and the time she got to spend with her mom, step dad, and step siblings. There was no mention of me at all. I immediately flashed back to a different project my daughter had to do last year for school, one that showed a timeline of her entire life up until that point. Now, this was a larger project, so I knew she probably had help on that one. Once the timeline was completed and I saw it hanging in the school hallway, I noticed one key person was missing from all of the pictures: me. There were pictures of my daughter and the rest of the family though, including her step dad and siblings.
I’ve had a single dad tell me in the past that no matter how hard we try, we are always viewed as the “second parent.” Based on the examples above, I can see where he is coming from, but I do not entirely agree and think it’s a matter of perception. Yes, it stung a bit when I saw that story, but that is why I prayed walking into the school.
In his book Girl’s Passage, Father’s Duty, author Brian Molitor lays it out like this:
"As a father, I had to accept the fact that the day would come when I had to release my children into their own futures. Nevertheless, part of me wanted to keep them as little ones forever…It is a painful reality, but to prepare and then release a child is a father’s duty."
Brian nails it by pointing out that although we are able to enjoy great and memorable times along the way with our kids, our ultimate job as fathers is to prepare them for adulthood. Failure to do so on our end can result in them becoming immature and irresponsible adults. In keeping in stride with this thought, here are a few quick ways you can pour into your son or daughter and maintain your God-given duty as their dad.
Build Them Up
Multiple studies have shown that when fathers are engaged in their children’s lives, there is an overall increase in the child’s cognitive and educational ability, psychological well-being, and social behavior. I even found out that when non-custodial fathers are highly involved with their children’s learning, the children are more likely to get A's at all grade levels (Fatherhood.gov, Childwelfare.gov). Children may not enjoy doing tasks like homework or chores, but examples such as this give us a clear picture of why doing those little and sometimes mundane things with them can have the greatest rewards. Even if we get to spend time with our children a small amount of time, it is our responsibility to make sure the foundational points of life are handled first, before playtime. That’s not to say that we can’t turn this into quality time, because we can. Be creative when doing homework with the kids and make it fun. The same goes for chores, and a reward system such as an allowance is always a great motivator for them.
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