I had the opportunity to write this post for http://www.todaychristian.net earlier this week. Please check out their site to see this and other great Christian articles!
Their child is swept away by a stranger and taken to a hidden place. The parents are left broken – wanting to rescue their precious son or daughter but feel defenseless and hopeless. What will become of their child? Are they hurt? Will they ever see them again?
As horrific as this scenario is, and as often as we hear about it in the news, the sad truth is thousands of dads are allowing their children to be kidnapped every day by not making the conscious decision to father them. Our young children are being kidnapped by hours in front of a television. Our preteens by violent video games filled with cursing and sexual material. Our teenage sons by unsupervised internet usage that fills their mind with a twisted perspective of women, sex, and an addiction to pornography that they may battle for a lifetime. Our teenage daughters, by guys who treat them special, say the right things, and then steal their innocence leaving them feeling worthless and dirty.
Twisted, confused minds. Violated innocence. Trapped in cold, dark, lonely places. Children are being kidnapped daily and it’s happening on our watch, dads. It’s happening because we’re leaving a void in our child’s life that’s being filled by someone or something else. It’s a void created by our lack of attention, lack of awareness, and lack of knowledge in raising our children.
This carefree method of fathering is a serious problem that is affecting generations at a time. So what can we do as fathers to keep our children safe, secure, and protected? How can we intentionally father our children each day?
It’s a huge mistake to assume your kids don’t need you around. They do. They love when dad wants to wrestle, sip tea out of little pink teacups, or draw silly pictures. You may say you love them often, but they’ll feel you love them when you spend time with them – and actually have fun doing it. Oh, and kids can tell when we’re distracted with work, television, or the internet so set those things aside and show your kids how much you love them. It’s hard for a child to be kidnapped when dad is standing right beside them.
Think back to when you were a kid. Remember the things that ruled your world when you were growing up? Those overwhelmingly good or bad things that you thought would change your life forever? Looking back, some of them actually did. Remember the first crush you had and how she didn’t feel quite the same about you? (She was your babysitter, after all.) How about the first bully you encountered? Or the time you were chosen last for kickball? Of course there were good times too, like when you scored the winning touchdown and everyone cheered for you. Or when you learned to ride a bicycle – you were so proud! As fathers we must be aware of what is going on in our child’s life and encourage them to talk about their feelings. When they succeed, celebrate the victories! When they fail, mourn the losses with them and then encourage them to never give up. Your child needs you to teach them how to deal with success and failure. To do that, we must find those opportunities. It is very hard for a child to be kidnapped if her father is aware of their surroundings.
My children are still young – my oldest daughter is about to turn 11 – but I started reading and learning right away so I would know what to expect as my sweet toddler girls grew older and the teenage years approach. Among many other books, I read Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson. Now I’m reading Bringing Up Boys by the same author and Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis in preparation for our son who is due in October. Men… Fathers…. we must prepare ourselves. If you are a father of a son, daughter, or both, it is nearly guaranteed that you will face the same or similar challenges that every parent before you has faced. So why not learn from those ahead of you? Learn how to communicate well with your children. Learn proven ways to connect on a deep level with them. Learn what has worked for other parents in training children spiritually. While you’re at it, learn what didn’t work for them – that’s important too. The better prepared we are as dads, the less likely we will make the big mistakes. We’ll make mistakes, of course. But we can hopefully avoid the big ones that bring regret and hurt for a lifetime. Preparation. It’s hard for a child to be kidnapped if their father is prepared for the attack.
Be There. Be Aware. Be Prepared. Three ways to keep your child’s life outside the reach of the kidnappers who want to spoil what God has planned for them. Dad, our responsibility to our children is a weighty one and quite difficult to accomplish at times but it is one whose reward will far outweigh the pain and work that we will invest. When you get weary, take a look ten, fifteen, or twenty years down the road and ask yourself if what your doing today is helping build the kind of character you want your child to have as an adult.
.PHOTO OF MAN IN HOOD BY COMETSTARMOON ON FLICKR CREATIVE COMMON LICENSE