(like father, like son!)
I was fortunate to take my son on a ‘father – son’ day last Sunday. We went to the Workshops Railway Museum while the gals spent a boring morning at the theatre watching something in the theme of pink.
The day out went fantastically – my boy and I had a great time looking at the old steam and diesel engines, going on various tours, playing in the interactive displays and railway sets and generally just enjoying all things trains.
On our return, Sarah asked something quite strange. Do you know what she asked?
‘Did you talk to Eli (our son)?’
And you know what? I didn’t know how to answer her. Now let’s be honest – the level of conversation a three year old boy provides isn’t exactly intellectually stimulating or has any real depth to it. But he talks on his level. I told Sarah that I couldn’t answer her, and I needed to think about it.
Well two days later I was still thinking about it.
The truth is, I have not talked to my son perhaps half as much as I should. I mean, we talked about what train he liked best and if he was ready for lunch – but did we talk? I don’t know.
Such a simple question really hit me for a six.
A recent Pew research article asserts that married fathers spend about 2.2 hours per week playing with their children. That’s about 20-ish minutes a day. Now the benefits of fathers playing with their children can’t be downplayed and that’s not what I’m trying to do here. What I’m talking about is intentional talking with your children. Asking questions. Exploring the world together. Encouraging them to seek answers, seek truth, challenge what they think and feel. One of thing things the Lord commands fathers to do is:
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Talking, leading, instructing – the Lord is commanding fathers to teach their children his ways. Building from this, I think it is VERY hard to teach without love or lead without grace. I’ve written before on my thoughts on fathers, but I think this is building on that.
So what am I trying to say? Fathers, talk with your children. Teach them. Challenge them. Lead them. Chat with them. Ask them questions.
I’ve been practicing talking to my son. He comes out with the craziest stuff. I’ve been including him in my ‘morning routine’, talking to him about grooming, deodorant, hair styling, tying a tie and suchlike. I’ve been chatting to him in the evening about his day, about the best bits, about lunch, about what we should do on our next adventure day. You know what? I’ve noticed a change. Maybe an un-locking. He just LOVES to talk – to tell me everything. His sometimes incoherent chattering, I just love it!
Dads, I’m interested. How do you talk to your boys? What successes have you had? What have been your challenges? What do you talk about?