I've had the privilege of observing two great father's up close during my lifetime. I am forever indebted to my dad for the way that he shaped me and molded me into who I am today. And I am so thankful that my son, Caedmon, gets to learn how to be a man by watching Andy. There is no man I would rather Caedmon turn out to be more like than his daddy.
One lesson I've learned in watching both of them is how important it is for dads to fight for the heart of their child.
It is no secret, Caedmon has been a "mama's boy" from the moment he was born. It wasn't such a big deal at first because there wasn't a whole lot Andy could do for a nursing newborn. But as Caedmon grew, we both realized that this had the potential to turn into a big problem. Caedmon only wanted me to comfort him...me to carry him...me to feed him.
Every day when I noticed it was getting close to the time Andy would arrive home from work, I would begin prepping Caedmon. "Daddy will be home soon. When Daddy walks in the door, let's run over to him and give him a big hug saying, "Yea! Daddy's home!"
Instead, the scene often looked more like this: Daddy walks in the door and Caedmon turns his back to him and yells, "No, Daddy, you can't play with us!" (If you're wondering, we did discipline that behavior, but that's not the point of this post.)
Even though Andy & I both realized that Caedmon is a small child and doesn't realize how lucky he is to have a father who loves him, those words can be really hurtful...and actually make you kinda mad. A normal (although immature) reaction would be, "Fine. I don't want to play with you either. I'll go do what I want to do."
Andy & I had a conversation last summer about this problem and what to do about it. We both recognized that Andy was going to have to fight for Caedmon's heart. That meant that he would have to really step it up in playing a very active role in the day-to-day parenting of Caedmon. For our family, it looked like this:
- Andy became much more involved in disciplining Caedmon. If Caedmon misbehaved while Andy was home, Andy began to be the parent to discipline him almost every time. As counter-intuitive as that may seem, it was amazing how that one adjustment endeared Caedmon to Andy at such a deeper level.
- Andy instituted a consistent Boy's Club that he VERY rarely misses. Every single Saturday morning, Andy takes Caedmon for a couple hours. They may go to the playground, or get donuts, or run some errands. But it is time for them to spend together and Caedmon really looks forward to it.
I don't know if you have a child today whose heart seems cold toward you. Let me just exhort you: "Do not give up on them!!!" It is YOUR job as the parent to do whatever it takes to win their heart. Some methods (i.e. adding more discipline and structure) may seem counter-intuitive. But get some help. Do the hard work. And in the end you will have an amazing reward.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who are trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Happy Father's Day to the men I love so much!