Understanding My New Title and New Set of Responsibilities
In a small dark room, under dim lights, we had our backs to the wall—cornered and bullied. Our daughter surprised us with her superhuman grip on the baby cot, protesting that my wife, Myra, had the nerve to try to comfort her.
This night was our first big test together as new parents. Micah, our firstborn, came into the world three weeks earlier than we expected, so she was kept in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) in the first week of her life.
On her last day in the hospital, we got to stay with her in this small room overnight to finally be on our own without the help of nurses. The crying went on all night. And then there was Micah’s crying on top of that. Myra and I were left catatonic come sunrise…but I had been promoted from husband to father.
Upon graduating to Christian dad, I was given the keys to a shiny new car… seat. Yes, a car seat… and we took home our real gift: a baby girl weighing less than five pounds, but with very, very healthy lungs.
After bringing Micah home and adjusting to our new family life, eventually, there was time to ponder on the greater scheme of things—like what is a Christian dad even supposed to do?
What is a father’s responsibility in the Bible?
I’ve been a Christian dad now for the better part of the decade, and in addition to our eight-year-old Micah, we have Mateo, our six-year-old son.
But I’ve learned that becoming a Christian Dad is like obtaining a lifelong undergraduate degree. A “master’s” is never quite conferred…because a dad’s role in raising children involves lots and lots of learning along the way. I can recall many joyous moments, but also some painful ones, and certainly some moments that I’m not proud of.
Still, I am honored to be a Christian dad, because the title involves so many roles and responsibilities. And these are my three favorites:
This is pretty much innate for us men in general, but these responsibilities kick into high gear once we become husbands, and especially when we become fathers. We’re the breadwinners, the builders, the fixers, the jar openers, the drivers, the lifters—and it’s our job to keep everyone safe.
I find myself constantly checking that doors are locked and lights are off at the end of the day. When we leave the house, I double-check, sometimes triple-check, that the stove is off and that the door is locked behind me. Even if I’m not looking for danger, I’m subconsciously scanning for and recognizing it—a paring knife left on the counter, a laptop left on the edge of a table, electrical outlets not covered.
But does being a Christian dad also contribute to the protection of my family? Absolutely. When I pray for my family, this is also for their protection. They can hear my trust in God, our greatest protector. When I lead them in preparing for worship, I’m passing my faith on to my children, helping them to learn to guard their young hearts.
While husbands and dads are expected to be the breadwinners, one thing I’ve come to understand is that earning less than your spouse doesn’t mean you’ve received less of a blessing from God. A blessing is a blessing.
So, in order to properly provide, I always take care of the livelihood God gave me and treat it honourably and with integrity. Sowing what is good will reap what is good. I also help make sure my wife and I make good decisions with the blessings God gives us, and that we always use them wisely. One of those blessings is time, and I also provide that by helping Micah and Mateo with school work and chores, while doing my share of chores as well.
In the end, providing is more than thinking of my family’s material needs. I need to care for my family emotionally and spiritually.
As husbands, dads, and heads of the household, we might feel like we need to be a hero and rescue our family members from their problems and worries, great and small. I’m a Gen X-er and my generation, like the previous one, grew up thinking that men weren’t supposed to express emotions. Our first impulse is to fix the situation or solve problems and do it quickly.
But the reality is, children often need us to pay attention and listen. Providing support may help more than knowing all the answers. Giving a shoulder to cry on may comfort more than a toy.
It has taken me a long time to understand this. I used to address emotional situations as quickly as I could, or if it couldn’t be done quickly, I’d keep my words minimal, waiting for the emotional storm to pass. Boy, was I so wrong.
That was certainly an “Aha” moment. I found that digging deeper emotionally and truly listening didn’t make me “weak.” It’s actually a huge part of a dad’s role in raising children. And it’s a requirement for me as the leader of my household. I know and feel that when my children see me emotionally available to them, especially when I share something of myself, they want to connect with me as well.
Being a good listener, being an active listener, being an empathetic listener helps me make good decisions and have thoughtful prayers.
Navigating Through Turbulent and Choppy Waters
These days, the world’s a pretty scary place, and we’re navigating especially scary times.
My children are still young, so they don’t truly understand the troubles we see on the news. They’re not old enough to see how distractions and controversies can impair our sights on the prize—salvation. And we don’t want to suffer a shipwreck of our faith as we try to make it there.
Becoming a Christian Dad has given me the responsibility to pass down the faith we share as members of the Church Of Christ. That’s why Myra and I are constantly praying for and nurturing a healthy relationship with our children so that they can always share their concerns with us. That way we know what to pray for, particularly during the times we gather for family prayer. And I always ask each of us what we’re thankful for as well. This was another thing I found hard to do at first—be openly grateful.
But by nurturing their faith this way, we’ve seen our daughter leading prayers since the age of four. We can hear what she’s worried about, as well as the things that fill her with gratitude.
And our son who has autism also joins us when we call upon God. Although Mateo is non-verbal, he has recently learned how to use his iPad to say “Amen” at the end of the prayer.
Understand the Responsibilities of Your role as a Dad
Becoming a dad is one of the biggest responsibilities given to a person. As a Dad the words of God have given me a handbook to follow on how to be the best Christian dad I can be. Set up a time with a minister in the Church Of Christ and see how the Bible can help guide you in your new role.
And don’t feel like you’re alone! There’s a whole village of Christian dads who have stories about how they’re navigating their role. Here are three of my favorites.
- A story from Edwil, a dad who found himself in a similar panic when his first was born. https://incmedia.org/raising-christian-sons/
- Like me, a dad with a daughter, Jason shares his experience raising a daughter. https://incmedia.org/a-fathers-experience-on-raising-a-daughter/
- Devon shares how finding God has helped him build a peaceful home for his young family. https://incmedia.org/finding-true-peace-with-god/