I’m a dad. I’m also a son. And it occurred to me recently that there are certain things that kids need from their dad. In fact, as I pondered the whole idea of fatherhood, I recall several examples in the Bible of “dad gifts” that were passed on to children. I think all dads would benefit from considering these, and if you didn’t get these from your dad, there’s a pleasant surprise for you at the end of this article.
I’m Scott Turansky, the son of John Turansky. My dad did a great job of passing these six gifts to me. I’m so grateful for his commitment to fatherhood and his example to me as I entered parenthood myself. Here are six things from God’s Word that kids need from their dads.
1) The Blessing
In the Old Testament we see examples of dads blessing their sons. After Jacob tricked his father into giving him the blessing that was to go to his brother, Esau, Genesis 27:34 states that Esau cried out, “Bless me—me too, my father!" Both sons wanted the blessing of their father.
Dads have an important gift they can pass on to their kids. It’s the affirmation that I believe in you and your future is something I look forward to. When a dad makes statements of affirmation and a positive anticipation of the future, it helps kids face even the most difficult challenges ahead.
God has given dads this important power that is crucial to a child’s sense of well-being and growth. Look for ways to regularly express a blessing to your child.
Yes, correction is part of the job, not an interruption to life. Correction is one of the ways that God uses, and dads are an important part of that process. Hebrews 12:7 says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”
Sometimes dads have to put the pressure on in order to help their kids develop character. It’s important to note the difference between pressure and harshness. Pressure can make a person stronger. Harshness damages relationship. As you correct your kids, remember that the goal of correction is positive. It’s about training and growth, not justice. Kids may not always appreciate correction but it’s a way that dads can show that they love their kids and want their best.
The next time you see your child acting out or doing the wrong thing, say to yourself, “Oh good! An opportunity for discipleship!” That positive attitude about correction can go a long way to help your kids move forward in life.
When dads delight in their kids, something happens deep inside the heart. Even if the whole world is a challenge, seeing dad’s delight can go a long way to help a child persevere. When Jesus was about to start His public ministry, we see His Father’s affirmation. At Jesus’ baptism, Mark 1:11 says, “And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.’” The Father was delighted with the Son.
What do you enjoy about your child? Sometimes kids have positive qualities that are misused and parents can become focused on the irritations. But looking past the irritations to appreciate a child who is emotionally sensitive can bring new delight into a parent-child relationship.
Kids do need correction, but they also need to see delight in their father’s eyes.
4) Spiritual Nurture
Sometimes parents think that praying before meals or taking their kids to church somehow transfers the faith to their children. But spiritual growth is best passed through intentional training. Ephesians 6:4 commands dads in particular, “Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
God knew that there’s something important about a dad’s spiritual leadership in a child’s life. When a dad says, “I’ll pray for you about that,” or shares a spiritual truth he’s learning, kids take notice.
In some ways, passing the faith on to kids is like driver education. There’s the bookwork learned in the classroom, but the behind-the-wheel experience is just as important. That’s where all the bookwork is put into practice. Dads teach their kids how to handle emotions under pressure, how to trust God for an upcoming challenge, or how to have integrity in touchy situations. Kids need spiritual training and dads have an important opportunity and responsibility in this area of a child’s life.
Some qualities are often considered female qualities. Compassion is one of them. We sometimes think of mom saying to a child who has fallen and is crying, “Come over here and I’ll give you a hug.” Dads are usually viewed as the ones that say, “You’re not hurt. Get up and try again.” Certainly, God uses both dads and moms in those ways to help children grow.
However, we must pause and consider 2 Corinthians 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” Those are interesting traits of a father: compassion and comfort.
Fathers are often tough, authoritative, and firm, but there is a time for comfort and compassion. Empathizing with a child’s pain and holding a child who is hurting are significant gifts dads can give to their child. Sometimes a compassionate word can propel a child forward to continue on to fight the challenges of life.
When Dads take notice of the little things, they show love. Care in the details of your child’s life is the application of love. After all, that’s what our heavenly Father models for us. Notice the care in the details mentioned in Matthew 10:29-30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Do you know what your child’s favorites are: favorite color, subject, clothes, food, or sport? That’s just the beginning of the details you might consider. You might not count your child’s hairs but you could count the teeth they’ve lost or the number of friends they have on Facebook. Remember that attention to detail shows that you care.
Kids need specific things from their dads. The power of a father in a child’s life can’t be underestimated. Amazing things happen inside a child’s heart when a dad shares these “father gifts” with his kids.
But what if you didn’t have a dad, or the one you had didn’t give you what you needed? The good news is that God has an app for that. He adopts us into His family when we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Just go back through the six things above and notice how God does each of those things for us.
No parent is perfect. Dads always make mistakes. All children need a father presence in their hearts. God knows all that because He designed us. So one of the greatest gifts we dads can give to our kids is to introduce them to their heavenly Father and encourage that relationship that meets all the inner fatherly needs we all have.
Can you think of other biblical examples of gifts that fathers can give to their kids?
Scott Turansky is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Living Hope and the co-founder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting. He and his wife, Carrie, have five children and four grandchildren and live in New Jersey. You can learn more about him and resources for your family at biblicalparenting.org.