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What parenting tips can fathers learn from God?

With Father's Day a day away, some may be rushing to find the perfect gift. Even if you've bought the tie, grill or apron with the funny slogan, this week's clergy offer the gift of wisdom, courtesy of Scripture.

 

Samantha Shabman, student rabbi, North Fork Reform Synagogue, Southold:

Psalm 86:15 teaches: "You, God, are a compassionate and graceful God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy and truth."

We all know how hard of a job it is to be a dad. At times, life can be stressful and overwhelming. However, this Psalm serves as a reminder that fathers should try to be compassionate and graceful, and slow to anger. In return, we children should try to treat our fathers (and, of course, mothers as well) with the same kindness and tenderness.

Just as fathers can become angry at times, Scripture teaches us that God gets angry at times as well. While anger is a natural human emotion, we should try not to allow anger to override us. We're not perfect and should not expect to be, but we all have the potential to strive to be better.

At moments when we feel like we want to explode, let us take a moment for quiet and reflection and try to understand our anger. May we think of this as a spiritual exercise and try to be the most compassionate people we can be.


The Rev. Charles Cary, Westhampton Presbyterian Church, Westhampton Beach:

I think one of the most important things one can take from Scripture is how to forgive and how to encourage your child. This is seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Although the focus is on the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), it also is an example of the father's forgiveness and new beginnings.

Being a good father also means not provoking your child (Ephesians 6:4), and also encouraging your child. It may not seem that obvious, but we all have times when we are both provoked by and provoke our children. I do think that being a grandfather has taught me more about parenting than fatherhood did. We all learn mostly from our mistakes. As a grandparent, my role is important because many times parents are busy being disciplinarians. As a grandparent, I have the wisdom and patience I didn't have as a parent, the wisdom and patience that God shows to us.

We as parents also need to be present, to really be there for our children when we are with then. I think of "The Sermon on the Mount"

(Matthew 5), which is a call to love actively, to not be indifferent. This is a sacred narrative that is essential for us as parents.

 

Gus Schuck, co-founder, Jesus Alive Ministries, Islip Terrace:

I have five children, and one thing I understand is that God gives us unconditional love. I pattern myself after God. We have a relationship with God, not a religion. That is what he wants us to have.

With my own children, I want them to know that I love them unconditionally no matter what. Whether they come to me for advice or with a problem, they understand that it doesn't matter what they did or what is going on, I love them. I may not always be happy with something they have done, but it doesn't change the way I feel about them. I will always stand by them and support them, just as God will always stand by us.

Unconditional love doesn't mean I accept everything they do. Just as we pray to God and acknowledge our sins and transgressions, I expect them to be responsible for their actions. I also make sure they understand that no matter how many times you fall down, you can always pick yourself up and dust yourself off.

Yes, parenting is different from when I was a child and my dad just had to worry about my coming in later than he told me to. As parents, sometimes you have to lift it up to God and put it in his hands and wait for him to answer. And sometimes, your children have to accept that what you say is how it is going to be. Try to explain things to them and help them understand; but sometimes, they have to wait for your answer and accept that your decision isn't the one they wanted.

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