Fathering a Child’s Heart

Something happened a few months ago that I am not very proud of. 

During the closing ceremony of our daughter’s school to officially end the academic year, I found myself frustrated and disappointed with her academic performance. It got to a point where after the event, I couldn’t say anything nice to her. I saw her running to me excitedly, holding her awards. But instead of holding out my arms to hug her and celebrate with her, I turned away. I wanted to let her feel and know that I wasn’t happy with her performance. I never even looked at her awards, because I felt it was nothing compared to what she could have gotten if she had only spent more time studying and doing her homework properly instead of filling her after school hours with what for me were senseless activities.

As I went on giving her my “You can do better” sermon, I saw her being more and more ashamed of what she had accomplished that quarter. Right before my eyes, from the rear view mirror of the car, I saw her head drop and her eyes looking farther and farther away.

As I reflected on that afternoon’s event, I realized how we, because of our desire to be good parents, can unconsciously resort to ways that put our kids down. We sometimes resort to ways that hurt them emotionally—and sometimes, maybe even abuse them verbally. We become the very reason they lose their joy in what they have accomplished. We become the very reason they lose their trust in themselves and in what they can do.

That night, I couldn’t help but think about what I said and did that I know caused her much pain. I couldn’t stop my tears from falling. I literally felt like I could have gotten the award for “The World’s Worst Father.” I felt ashamed of myself for what I had done.

How many times have we had opportunities to celebrate our child’s accomplishment and rejoice with them while continuing to teach them to strive so that they can reach their full potential and maximize their capabilities? I’ve since learned to consistently be conscious of giving positive reinforcement instead of dishing out those long sermons, extending love instead of expressing discontent, celebrating even her small victories in life instead of waiting only for the big ones.

Today, I not only celebrate what Hailee has accomplished in her CEM exam from the previous grade level, I also celebrate the fact that somehow her heart—which I know I broke as her father—was being put back together again, by God’s grace! Nothing that our kids could do should make us turn away from them. In God’s sight, they are just like us. Think about it: we’ve hurt and disappointed God more than our kids have probably done to us. Yet, we continue to feel God’s love, comfort, and encouragement extended to us through those around us. 

Even in our failures and shortcomings, God fathers our hearts. Let us do the same to the children He has entrusted to us. Let us be the father God wants us to be to our children: the kind of father He Himself demonstrates for us to see, feel and imitate.

Fathering a Child's Heart | www.familywiseasia.com

P.S. When I told Hailee this morning that I was going to be posting these accomplishments, she told me, “But Daddy, those were from weeks ago!” Well, true; but I wanted to make sure I could finish this write-up. I wanted to make sure she knew that I was sorry for what I had done, and that I am super proud of her—not only for what she has accomplished or will accomplish in the future, but simply because she is our daughter—God’s precious gift to me and Helena! 

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