During our end-of-season football banquet my senior year in high school, an assistant coach from a big university approached me to tell me they wanted me to play at that university. I wondered about his comment because I knew I hadn’t qualified academically. Then the coach winked at me and said, “Don’t worry. We’ve got it all under control.”
I was ready to go along with whatever that coach had in mind until I was startled by my dad’s voice from behind me. “No,” he said, “Carey didn’t qualify. He’ll be going to a junior college.”
I was upset at my pop in the moment, but through the years I’ve seen how his wisdom and his commitment to integrity — on that night and on many other occasions — have shaped me and saved me from a lot of trouble. And now that I’m a father, my dad’s example has given me the presence of mind and the courage to step in when I have seen my children moving in a direction that I know is foolish or possibly dangerous.
Dads, do you have the courage to pull your children back from making a poor decision? I’m grateful that my dad did.
As we endeavor to raise virtuous, God-fearing children, our modeling may be the most important factor in our influence. Through all the ups and downs of life, our kids are watching us. Do we carry ourselves with poise and dignity? Do we demonstrate godly character amid everyday challenges? Do we compromise what we believe to gain an edge or for convenience?
Our example is a very powerful part of our fathering. But like my dad demonstrated that day at the banquet, sometimes training our children to have integrity calls for a more direct approach.
Confronting the tough issues
One morning years ago, while I was driving my children to meet the school bus, I heard my daughters in the back seat going on about which designer labels were cool and who was wearing what at school. This was during a time when people were being killed for their shoes or their jackets.
As I listened to my kids talking, my mind was churning: Have they lost their minds? How could they let themselves be so influenced by the materialistic attitudes of others?
The influence of our culture can sneak up on us — and on our children. We may not notice it from day to day, but then we have a wake-up experience like I did that day in the car.
In a moment of what I believe was righteous anger, I stopped the car, turned it around and said, “We’re going back home.” Correcting potentially harmful attitudes or values sometimes calls for a direct approach. We returned to the house and discussed some of the dangers that kids get into when they aren’t careful, and I read from Proverbs 4:23 about the importance of guarding our hearts. My daughters were a little bit shocked — so they listened carefully.
Dads, do you have the courage to pull your children back from dangerous attitudes or poor decisions? I encourage you to stay watchful. Don’t be afraid to confront tough issues, especially when you notice possible compromises in your children’s behavior. Be willing to turn the car around and have a heart-to-heart talk. Maybe schedule a one-on-one campout to discuss important issues with your child. Maybe it’s time to join him or her on a church mission trip or volunteer together at a soup kitchen once a week.
Given the opportunity, our kids will sometimes make foolish choices. Part of our role is to help them understand the implications, and that isn’t easy at times. We may not want to intervene and deal with those issues, but dads, our children need that from us.