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Fathers: Help Your Child Discover His World

  • Dr. Ken Canfield The National Center for Fathering
  • 2005 5 Jan
Fathers: Help Your Child Discover His World

From the early grade-school years through their twenties and beyond, we want to instill in our children a healthy attitude about discovery -- cautious, yet confident. And we fathers especially provide them with the safety, stability, and curiosity to explore the world.

At first glance, mountain climbing appears dangerous. However, under the guidance of a trained professional, the sport is relatively safe. Ideally, two support ropes are anchored into rocks from different angles, accounting for possible stresses. While a climber ascends, he is supported by the belay man, who lets out rope while holding the climber in case he should fall. In addition, the belay man will often watch the climb from below or above, and offer encouragement and suggestions to help the climber succeed.

Likewise, we fathers can create the support, encouragement, and perspective necessary for our children as they explore. We should also take an active role in teaching and guiding our children.

In Ephesians 6:4, Paul urges fathers to bring up children "in the training and instruction of the Lord." And in Deuteronomy 11:18-19, Moses writes, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds.... Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home ... when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

So, a four-step process for teaching might look like this:

1. Prepare for your task. Be aware of -- and help your child discover -- his unique traits, interests, strengths and life dreams, as well as areas of vulnerability. And, as Moses wrote, "fix" or establish the word of God in your mind.

2. Be intentional about teaching your children about God's truth and a wide range of other topics. You don't need to know and teach everything; sometimes it means facilitating their learning with help from teachers, coaches, music instructors, and youth sponsors. Give your children access to stimulating books; govern the television; listen patiently to questions; and be a reliable model of character and virtue.

3. The teaching must include discussion and illustration -- that's why Moses urges us to "talk about" God's precepts. Instead of lecturing, tell stories and use word pictures that appeal to them, and expose them to memorable learning experiences.

4. The teaching must be consistent and continuous; it happens "at home ... along the road, when you lie down, when you get up." Whether it's in the car, on the playing field, at the supermarket, around the dinner table or in the garage-whenever you spend time with your kids, you're sharing life skills and passing on the legacy of who you are and what you believe.

Our kids are on a quest for understanding; our homes can no longer contain them. So, dad, the question isn't, Will your child explore the world? but, Will you be her belay man? Will you accompany her in her exploration? You can try to deny the inevitable and leave her to face the outside world alone, or you can be a partner and encourager who helps her navigate the dangers and reach the top.

Some Important Subjects to Discuss and Skills to Teach Your Kids

• money and stewardship
• self-control
• death
• anger
• sex
• romantic love
• honesty
• gratefulness
• integrity
• honesty
• purity
• friendship
• the consequences of cheating
• how the Bible applies to real life
• your commitment to always be there for them

• overcoming temptations
• striving for excellence
• perseverance through hard times
• safety precautions
• how to find answers to questions
• how to capitalize on his or her learning style
• how to ask for forgiveness
• evangelism
• healthy communication
• how to pray

The National Center for Fathering was founded in 1990 by Dr. Ken Canfield because every child needs a dad they can count on -- someone who loves them, knows them, guides them and helps them achieve their destiny. Visit for more articles and resources to assist dads in nearly every fathering situation.