After six years of incredible marriage, my family has now grown quite substantially. From our 13-year-old foster daughter who is no longer with us, to my two biological booger pickin boys (Liam, 3 a& Eli 2), and one on the way, our family is growing and here are some things that have been central to it.
One of my mentors encouraged me to think through the non-negotiable gifts that I can give my kids as a Father. These gifts are simply values that we have held central to our family that no one will ever be able to take away from them. Among the list are the following.
• Being my child’s primary principal – We are their primary teachers regardless of formal education setting
• The freedom to fail – See “Love and Logic”
• The promise of authentic apologies – admitting failure as a parent
But for times sake I have written about 4 specific gifts.
A picture of risk filled faith
Both Amanda and I have seen adults who speak boldly about their faith and who press their religious beliefs on their kids, but when push comes to shove they do not step into situations where they have to depend on the bigness of God. Above and beyond this it is rare that parents bring their children into situations where the kids are actually forced to depend on God’s faithfulness as well. We have committed to bringing our kids into moments with us where we risk for the sake of the Kingdom, banking on the promise that God will step in on our behalf. The Father let go of his Son for the sake of the Kingdom and in some way, shape, and form we must do the same to give our children glimpses of the raw, primal faith our creator longs to see from us.
Experience with Diversity
Our 3 year old has already been to Africa twice, we have had a foster daughter from the East side of Detroit, and cousins in Zululand. One of the gifts that we wish to give out kids is genuine relationship with people of different ethnicities and socioeconomic situations. We live in a globalized world and we want our family to be relevant to that world with the ability to humbly step into relationships with those that are different than us.
Re-drawing Family Borders
One of the things that Amanda and I have felt called to is always having an open room for those in need as well as adopting/fostering. To do this in a healthy way for our biological kids we will have to stay committed to redefining family lines, ensuring that they know they are not going anywhere, but also that our family extends past a certain DNA.
A Vision for Marriage
Potentially the most important thing that my kids see is that I have not only been created to pursue God with my whole life, but I have been purposed to pursue my bride as well. This is the best representation I can give them of God’s love and His pursuit of us (Ephesians 5). Yet it is also the perfect way to give them vision for a life of commitment, devotion, and resilience.
I know there is a ton to learn on this topic, and these are values I only attempt to live out. I would love to hear from Dad’s who have gone before me. What other gifts have you been able to give your children?
Thanks to Dan for writing this fantastic post about his thoughts on fatherhood. I’ve known Dan now for a few years but have really got to spend some time getting to know him as a friend. He is one of the most dynamic and passionate speakers I know. He believes in our youth and develops programs like Detroit Reverse to help them. Check out Dan’s blog and follow him on Twitter at @dansadlier