As the father of three young children – one boy (Paul), age 13, and two girls, ages 15 (Christine) and 6 (Angel) – I praise God with a deep sense of gratitude. I get to see them each day at home, have almost daily meals with them despite busy school/work schedules, lead them in prayer/bible devotions and to church on Sundays.
I value these times and opportunities not just as a father who can be present in my kids’ lives. But also, as a son who grew up without the presence and involvement of my own parents in my own life. Both my father and mother were “absentees.” And I couldn’t remember important moments together with them, much less in daily life, throughout my childhood, youth, and onwards.
So with this, I knew I needed to “self parent” with the Lord as my true, loving parent and His Word as my guide. And then step out of my own head and tune in with my own kids. It is rarely easy. Especially when it’s something not modeled to you when you were young yourself.
Over the years, I realize that I’ve been an imperfect father. I had shortcomings and made mistakes. I lost count of all the times when I stumbled in talking and listening to my children. There were days of struggle and heartache when I felt like Christine, Paul, and Angel were thousands of miles away despite my best efforts. The Lord knows the tears I shed for them. With God’s help, I knew then I had to change and improve more.
The good news is that whatever is lost or broken can be redeemed. Why? Because we have a God our Father who fully accepts, heals, and empowers His children. He is our perfect model of loving, patient, wise parenting! I came to understand that a “hole” a father/mother leaves when he/she neglects or abandons duty to his children is one that God our Father can completely fill. The Lord is more than enough to fully make up the difference.
Just this morning, before she went to school, Angel came to my room and asked for something. With her weight resting in my lap, I started praying for her and laying my hands on her head. I asked the Lord to bless, provide for, and protect her as well as her sister Christine and brother Paul all the days of their lives. I thought of the pledge I made and that is I’d give to them what I never had.
No matter what difficulties I may face hereon, I recommit my self to that work of being fully there enough for my children. Oh, how I learned much that it’s not enough to just be physically present! Too often, especially during tough times and struggles, the kids (without saying it) need their father (and mother) to be emotionally and spiritually present as well. I resolve to stick with them the whole way through not just when it’s comfortable or “fair-weather” – but when it’s so hard and they face storms in their lives.
That is my prayer, not just for me, but also for all the fathers (and mothers) out there.