by Melvin Twigg Mason
As we continue our journey into the “Disciplines Of A Godly Man,” by R. Kent Hughes, it’s time to look into the last relational discipline he deals with, the Discipline of Fatherhood. Hughes says, “The mere [state] of fatherhood has endowed you with terrifying power in the lives of your sons and daughters, because they have an innate, God-given passion for you.” And he demonstrates that this power can be exercised incorrectly or effectively, with a decisive outcome either way! “Parents often take too much blame for their children’s problems,” Hughes notes, “and too much credit when they turn out well. [But] I realize that my children are what they are by the grace of God.”
The author breaks down the discipline of fathering into basically a “Do not” and a “Do,” as emphasized in Eph.6:4 – do not provoke your children to wrath (to the point of exasperation & resentment), but do bring them up with nurture and disciplined instruction, especially in the instruction of the Lord Jesus. (Reporter’s paraphrase) Hughes says, “We live in a time of great social crisis. Whole segments of our society are [deprived] of male leadership. There are strong men who give their best leadership to the marketplace, but utterly fail at home.” Brothers, these things ought not be!
When it comes to the “do not,” Hughes points out a few ways in which a father can aggravate and exhaust his child: being overly critical, overly strict, and overly irritable; not keeping his word, and showing favoritism. And might I add one more, if statistical data* are to be believed: being overly unavailable (emotionally if not physically), which is a serious concern in black, brown, and red (Native American) communities of color. Hughes points out that “Recent studies show that 1 in 3 children do not live with their fathers.” But this should not stop you from having a positive influence and impact in your children’s lives!
The author then reinforces the DO’s of fathering: be tender with your children, train them (yes, even thru corporal punishments), and instruct them (e.g., taking advantage of teachable moments).
So, fathers, evaluate your parenting by asking yourself these nine questions:
- Do I spend time with my children, both as a family and individually?
- Do I criticize my children or build them up?
- Am I consistent in my expectations?
- Do I show favoritism?
- Am I overly strict or reasonably strict (gradually granting my child greater freedom)?
- Am I impatient and irritable or self-controlled when dealing with my children?
- Am I tender with both my sons and my daughters?
- Do I keep my promises?
- Do I share disciplinary duties with their mother?
Hughes asks, “What does your heart tell you? Be honest. Is your fathering weak or strong?”
In my next set of articles we’ll start looking at the disciplines that help to create a fulfilling & self-nourishing inner life for a man. The section of the book entitled “The Soul!”