A couple of weeks ago, we had a Parenting seminar where Mr Gn Chiang Tat shared on the father’s role.
Close to 40 people, Parents with children of all ages, married couples with no children yet, and a soon-to-be-married couple came. I believe everyone was challenged, received great insights and brought home personal reflections and take-aways - fathers learning biblical principles and practical tips, wives appreciating the role of their husbands and the need for their support, fathers who were convicted that it was never too late to seek reconciliation with their children or even with their own fathers.
The seminar gave us an opportunity to journey back to our childhood and pen down any positive or negative impact our fathers had on us. Personally, this exercise proved enlightening. The way ten different siblings perceived our father was clearly different. I saw him as responsible, hardworking, instilling good moral values to his children and providing his best for the family despite our poor background and he not being perfect. Some of my siblings, however, felt he had not done enough for them.
We also learned about 6 Ls for the father: Lead, Learn, Laugh, Listen, Labour and Love.
Leading is about being consistent, authentic and a good role model. Fathers must learn constantly and adjust – learn from our wives’ feedback, from others and from our own mistakes. It’s important for fathers to have light-hearted moments with our children too: laugh, unwind, hug, have fun – it’s not all serious business of instructing and disciplining. Then, it pays to practise active listening (Jas 1:19) with our children – be slow to give solutions and answers; rather, listen and engage them to find their own ways. We were also reminded to labour and persevere in love, no matter what and whether our children fail to conform to our expectations (Gal 6:9, Prov 19:18). Finally, fathers are to show love and affection both to our children and to our wives. A piece of good advice I picked up: husbands should show love to their wives because our children have this deep sense that they are the product of the union of their mother and father. Very profound.
Before making a pledge, fathers were asked to rank the 6 Ls, in order of “strength” down to “opportunities for improvement”. Their wives for their husbands too. It was for self-awareness and feedback. Interestingly, a quick poll showed gaps among almost all the couples. Having reflected on my own childhood, I realise that my wife’s and children’s perception of me as father is an area that I had neglected and need to work on.
After the seminar, I was also challenged to consider why King David, a man after God's own heart, did not have good success as a father. He was the leader of a great nation. He had authority over his generals and his mighty army. But he had little control over his own actions and his sons. He had disobeyed God.
It has led me to conclude that our walk with God and accountability to Him are fundamental to being a good father. This is where the father’s role starts.
Elder Max Tsang