It’s Father’s Day—at least in Australia. That concept brings with it an enormity of different responses from joy and wanting to ‘be with dad,’ to a wanting to forget about the whole thing as it brings up painful memories. But what does it mean to be a father? To be a real father, I mean. I heard a resounding message this morning that every single person who’s ever had a father or parent (yes, that’s basically all of us) can surely identify with.
Our goal as parents is to bring up our children to become mature; people with character and a good heart. That’s ‘the parenting idea.’ The simple way of achieving this is via unconditional acceptance—of all people our children will know they must always find a safe haven with us, their parent(s). That safe haven is knowing they’ll be accepted whatever might come and whatever they do.
If kids experience acceptance, particularly of their own father or parents, they naturally find the ability to accept themselves. Where kids (and even adult children) don’t have the universal acceptance of a father or parent there is always the thought of needing to seek the approval of that parent. When interacting, there’s a holding back of true disclosure and a barrier to real rapport.
The flipside to unconditional acceptance, of course, is, as a parent, allowing our children to suffer and learn from their own mistakes—the natural and logical consequences of their behaviour i.e. without being “rescued” by mum or dad.
Allowing the natural consequences to play themselves out is allowing our kids to fail and then pay for their mistakes. That’s restitution. The logical consequences are about the chosen disobedience of natural laws—obedience to the law brings life, opportunity and relative freedom; disobedience carries with it a cutting off of options and opportunities. And both natural and logical consequences connect up producing a sense of doom serving to propound the lesson for those who choose to learn.
Kids learn best when they can personalise their errors. Think about this: when did we learn best? I learned the deepest and hardest lessons from my own silly, narrow-minded will and ignorant lack of knowledge manifest in foolish action. I think we all learn best in these circumstances as we observe life ‘going wrong,’ setting about to make amends for the future.
Putting both acceptance and consequences together reveals a balanced true love with the goal firmly in the front of our minds of assisting our children mature into functional, well-adjusted adults. All our attitudes, motivations and actions need to come from this balanced base. Over these two, however, a sense of grace underpins all our success.
Finally, most if not all of our parenting—particularly in the teen years—stems from the relational rapport we have with our kids. We cannot enforce any sense of rules without first having a solid, accepting relational basis. “Rules without relationship will result in rebellion.”
My indebted thanks to local pastor, Hans Van Asselt—who reminded me regarding these truths of acceptance.