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   - What is my role as a dad?

Dads play an exceedingly important role in their children's lives at every age. From an early age, the first distinct person a child often recognizes is 'dad,' since 'mom' is frequently perceived as an extension of the child's own identity due to breastfeeding, comfort, and affection that moms typically provide. Unfortunately, in today's society, dads are often absent, missing in action (M.I.A.). Yet dads and men play a critical role in introducing their children to the world. In ancient indigenous cultures, adults would take their children out into the world beyond the safety of family and home. Into the wilderness, to explore the big questions of life: death, suffering, struggle, 'Who am I?', 'Why am I here?', and 'Is there a God?' Our modern, individualistic, and consumerist culture has left children to figure these things out on their own. The individual reigns supreme, and the lineage of knowledge and wisdom has been disrupted, leaving us with a culture that is often superficial and sometimes quite lonely.

What is the solution?

Dads need to engage actively in their children's lives instead of withdrawing.

Rather than coming home to lie on the couch and stare at our phones, and letting Marvel movies consume our time, we need to embrace real life. Our children are watching and imitating us. Whether our child is 9 years old, 15, or 32, the principle remains the same: they learn about the world through us. We cannot afford to escape to go fishing or to play golf every weekend. We need to take our children with us, to negotiate, to embrace the messiness, to delve into the play, the tears, the quality time, and the conversations about deep and meaningful topics. Let's have a heart-to-heart talk, a 'D&M' (deep and meaningful conversation).

I can hear some of you saying, 'But I don’t have children'… This is even more important. With many men M.I.A. and the proverbial African village a concept of the past in many places, your involvement in the lives of our children is critical. Now more than ever, children need adult role models.

Where do we begin?

Do we dedicate at least 5 minutes of our day to playing with our children? Playing chess, throwing a ball around, doing something fun?

Do you spend 5 or 10 minutes of your day engaging in spiritual activities with your children? Prayer can be mundane at times, but this challenges our ego…

Do you spend 5 or maybe 50 minutes doing housework? Cooking, cleaning, tidying up… Then, when we're 15 minutes in, we encourage our children to contribute too. We are one family, aiming to challenge them, to step away from a life lived on the couch watching Marvel or flicking through screens, to living in the real world. A world where questions about death, suffering, struggle, 'who am I', 'Why am I here?', and 'Is there a God?' can be explored while having fun. Why? Because one day they will be adults to and children will need them.

Questions for further reflection
  1. How can adults balance the demands of modern life with the need to be present and engaged in their children's growth and exploration of life's profound questions?
  2. In what ways can adults without biological children contribute to the mentorship and support of the younger generation in their community?
  3. What are the most effective strategies for adults to foster deep and meaningful conversations with their children at different stages of their development?
Reflection on these questions as you listen to these songs.

Show me Your ways (with lyrics) - Darlene Zschech - Hillsong



Song - Nichole Nordeman - Slow Down



Final prayer

Loving Father,

We come before You today to acknowledge the sacred duty You have entrusted to us. Grant us the wisdom to guide our children through the complexities of this world. May we be beacons of Your love, teaching their children about life's profound questions with patience and grace. Empower us to be present, not just in proximity but in spirit, attentive and engaged in the moments both big and small.

Bless us with strength when they feel inadequate, and with humility to seek help when the journey becomes arduous. Remind us that in every game played, every prayer whispered, and every conversation held, they are molding the future in the hearts and minds of their children.

We pray for the fathers and adults who are struggling to connect, for those who are absent, and for all who seek to fill the void left by others. May they find the path back to their role as nurturers and protectors, teachers, and guides.

And for the community around us, Lord, let us support and uplift the fathers and adult role models among us, so that together, we can raise a generation grounded in love, resilience, and wisdom. May we all contribute to a world where every child can turn to an adult they trust and see the reflection of Your love.

In Your holy name, we pray.

Amen.



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Date
13 February 2024

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