It’s Father’s Day so naturally I’m thinking about children today–after all we have seven! And while we sipped our morning coffee today, I read a blog by Doug Fields, entitled: “10 actions that kids learn from their parent’s marriage” and it got me thinking. Our children are always watching us, but children today do not have role models for happy, loving marriages that last a lifetime–so what they’re watching are marriages that are unfaithful, self-centered and eventually…fatherless.
So here are 10 things that children can learn from their father about infidelity, using Doug Field’s list as a guide:
1. Affection. Our children can see affection being used as a weapon, withheld as punishment, or exerted to manipulate a spouse into doing what you want. If their father does not find it easy to display affection, they can learn that if something is hard they should avoid it.
OR… They can see affection offered as a source of encouragement, security and joy from one committed person to another…at no cost, freely given. If their father doesn’t find it easy to display affection but he tries anyway, they can learn that even if something is hard, they can do it and keep trying.
2. Saying “I’m sorry.” Our children can see their father being blatantly and obviously wrong, inaccurate and incorrect and yet refusing to admit the error, thereby learn blameshifting and deflection and projection.
OR… They can see their father being blatantly and obviously wrong, inaccurate and incorrect and then admit what he did wrong and do an exact about-face, thereby learning that we all make mistakes but a wise man learns from his mistakes and a courageous man corrects himself.
3. Affirmation. Our children can hear their father swearing and using negative, derogatory, belittling, criticism coming out of their father’s mouth (about their mother or them) and learn that no one is ever good enough.
OR… They can hear their father using positive, encouraging, appreciative, praise coming out of their father’s mouth (about their mother or them) and learn that every one is valuable and worthy of being treated with respect.
4. Attraction. Our children can see a worldly representation of putting lust and their own “sexual needs” ahead of anything else, with an idea of beauty that only has to do with youth and physical perfection.
OR… They can see a godly representation of putting commitment ahead of lust and your spouse’s sexual desires ahead of your own, pleasing them and seeing both their physical beauty at every age…and their inner beauty of spirit. Then they will understand what their dad means when he says “Your mom is a beautiful woman.”
5. Time. Oh I love this one! Our children can see their father invest his time, energy and interest in his work, his hobbies, his friends, and some lady AT work…making the marriage falter and their family fall apart.
OR… They can see their father invest his time, energy and interest in their mother, them, their home and their family…making the marriage stronger and their family more secure.
6. Laughter. Our children can watch the attitude of their father and see him ridicule and mock their mother, all the while saying “It was a joke! You have no sense of humor” (thereby learning that one way to feel better about themselves is to belittle others).
OR… They can watch the attitude of their father and see a man find so much joy, happiness, pleasure and amusement with one woman–their mother–that he laughs and frolicks with her and with them!!
7. Respect. Our children can observe their father treating their mother with contempt, rudeness, and dishonor–neglecting her emotionally, mentally and spiritually–thereby learning to treat the people in their life with discourtesy and disrespect.
OR… They can observe a father who treats their mother with esteem, regard and honor–taking care of her emotionally, mentally and spiritually–thereby learning to treat the people in their life with courtesy and dignity.
8. Faith conversations. Our children can study a father who discounts faith, loses his moral values, and says things like “lying is wrong” but then turns around and lies about where he was or who he was with (thereby teaching the children that once you become an adult you don’t have to obey God).
OR… They can study a father who realizes that faith is the foundation life is built upon, and study a man who guards his moral values and when he says “lying is wrong” he even applies it to himself (thereby learning that we always have to obey, and what is wrong is wrong)!
9. The value of friends. Our children can follow a father who will “hang out with” any kind of person, in any kind of place, and listen to the bad advice of people with low morals.
OR… They can follow a father who will not associate with people at the bar and who encourage unfaithfulness, a father who selects his friends carefully and then lavishes respect, love and joy on them.
10. Servanthood. Our children can learn from a father who lords-it-over their mom, pounds the bible verse that she has to submit to him, and treat her like she is supposed to SERVE him.
OR… They can learn from a father that true love means that we put the needs of our spouse ahead of our own, serve them, do what is best for them, and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.