Time is fleeting, as I wrote in the previous post regarding loving our daughters, so we as fathers must be vigilant about loving our children well. After my two daughters made their appearance, God blessed us with a son.
There is a difference. Maybe our ever-growing egalitarian culture would tell us that we love and disciple our sons and daughters exactly the same, but the Word of God indicates something different. The Bible is clear in multiple places that men and women who love and follow Jesus have different functions (1 Tim 2:8-15; Eph 5:22-33). Therefore, if we as parents are committed to doing all that is within our ability to disciple our children to biblical womanhood and adulthood, we will disciple them differently. Discipleship is an outworking of our love for them.
My son is the youngest of our three kiddos. Since he is five years old there are some practical ways that I can love him differently merely because of his age. My son and daughters have needs that are different, not only because of gender, but also due to age difference. That being said, the principles that shape the way I love my son and my daughters are the same.
I wrote these words in my journal within days of my son’s birth:
carry a name from age to age
the honor and yoke of which
here brings no fame
he lays in innocence without a move
aside from eating his deserved due
my boy today brings to bear
a tear fairly rare and
yet I know a life he’ll live
of ups and downs going
from here to there
tomorrow to run and to play
we’ll have day after day
how will I use these days to come
and memories to seize?
will I find the joys of each offered
as tiny and precious gifts
each within reach?
age to age and day to day
seen as forever but won’t be
to cherish to hold the most important to be
are minutes as he will sit and play
or maybe just talk with me
Here are a few ways that we should love our sons…
Hug him often and randomly. We miss this with our boys. Our sons need to feel the loving embrace of their father, and not just at predictable times. We need to make it normal for our sons to be grabbed at anytime and feel their fathers strong arms squeeze them tightly.
Tell him you love him. I feel like this is more of a given when we discuss our daughters but less so with our sons. That reality is heart-breaking. If my son runs past me as I am sitting in the family room and I say, “Hey, Taylor come here” he knows what is going to follow. Before I can say or do anything he says, “Dad, I know… I love you too.” I still make him come in for a yelp-producing hug before he escapes to pursue whatever had captured his attention.
Ask him about his day and show him Jesus in it. I love teachable moments. Anytime that I can ask a question that sparks a spiritual conversation, I seize the moment. Even if he asks the question and I can answer it in a way that sparks a spiritual conversation, I seize the moment. I like to hear about the adventures of his day at school with friends and place those circumstances in a spiritual context.
Spend quantity BOY time together. I view quality time as something that takes shape amidst quantity time. You don’t force quality time. Rather, you spend quantity time with your son and then you find special moments which instill themselves in your memory as cherished quality moments. Encourage your boy to be a BOY! My son and I wrestle and laugh together. We play ball. We watch sports. I taught him how to shower like a man. I even surprise him with a splash of aftershave on occasion (he isn’t a fan yet). I’ve talked to him about firearms, taken him hunting, and helped him shoot his first rabbit (not the easter kind but the wild ones).
Pray with him specifically, and kiss him goodnight. Maybe giving your son a kiss feels uncomfortable to you. I don’t think it is a biblical mandate but I kiss him on the forehead anytime I put him to bed. I find it a unique display of a father’s love and protection. Often times when I pray with my daughters I will pray thanking God for creating them so beautifully perfect. When I pray for my son I will often thank God for making him so strong and so fast. I pray with him differently in a way that affirms his budding manhood. I also strive to make praying together comfortable. Often times, men do not feel comfortable praying with other men. I hope prayer with his fellow brothers in Christ is a normal and expected practice for my son.
The dynamics change as they develop and their maturity changes yet the principles stay the same. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, ESV)
Fathers, are you loving your son(s) well?