“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...”
~Ephesians 5:25 (NRSV).
“And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
~Ephesians 6:4 (NRSV).
The identity of a man’s family is central to his own identity, no matter how much he may — if he would — resist that thought. Identity is a thing many men struggle with; truth be known, a lot of women and children do too.
The family man’s identity, kept succinct, is to be about loving his wife/partner sacrificially, and being the consistent, stable and respectful influence with the children and extended family.
Loving His Wife/Respecting the Mother of His Children
There is hardly a bigger favour a man can grant his children than to love their mother, whether he’s married to her or not, i.e., this includes loving respect for divorced partners; the mother of his children.
Whole volumes are spent, of course, dissecting the enormous subject of marital love; too much to do justice here. A picture the Apostle Paul paints us, however, is one of husband being to the wife what Christ is to the church. That’s to be the husband’s aspiration — to die to himself for his wife/the mother of his children — even though he’s bound to frequently fall short, accepting his imperfections.
Providing Consistency for Children
As parents, when we discharge emotionally, we’re given to exasperating our children — we’ve all done it, but it’s an abuse of our positions of power. Instead, we’re to acknowledge the responsibility implicit in this power, and calm our spirits, admonishing them in lovingly gentle candour.
This is practically done by being consistent with rules and discipline. Nothing empowers disciplinary love in the household like a parent’s consistent instruction and follow-up. Conversely, nothing is more intimidating to children, in the normal flow of life, than moving previously agreed, or poorly communicating, goalposts.
The Extended Family
It should go without saying, but fathers must respect all extended family, though this doesn’t mean they have to agree with everyone.
All families have their differences and personality mismatches. Coping past these challenges is the father’s key. He’s forgiven for failing to fully understand the values of his in-laws; acceptance without vocalising or criticising these differences is, however, critical.
If a father can establish a family identity rooted in love — in forms of sacrificial love for his partner/the mother of his children, consistency of regard for his children, and acceptance issued toward the extended family — he’ll go a long way toward fulfilling his God-given mandate.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: Wallcoo.net.