Lately, I’ve been thinking about First Thessalonians 2: “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” I’ve thought a lot about earlier in the chapter, when he writes, “But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” But somehow I missed the part about dads.
Moms are holy. They’re on pedestals and people write poems to them. My daughter openly adores me, and told her dad that he was number two in her love quotient, but mommy is number one because she is always with me. It’s true; we are most always together. I try to be a gentle mommy, I’ve never spanked her and I only slapped her hand once. She laughed at me and slapped me back. I felt like an idiot for reacting to her in such a matter. I don’t know what people think of me as a mother. I care, I really do, more than I ought to, but there is such scrutiny towards moms, I think there is no way I can please anyone all the time. That’s true for me about the mamas out there. I have some friends I think are good moms and some who are terrible. But that’s enough of that.
Let’s talk about dads. Everyone thinks my husband is a good dad. We look at 2 Thessalonians and get a list of what is naturally expected of fathers. “You know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” It’s like a mini-checklist of how fathers should actually act. I am thankful for the parenting of my husband, even though he’s doesn’t always encourage, comfort or urge her to live a life worthy of God,” but he tries to do it. I cannot fathom what it would be like for her without her dad.
Too many fathers see their roles as disciplinarians. They bring home a check, are met and the door with mom’s list of their children’s sins and punish their children. This was probably even more common twenty years ago that it is now. But it still happens now.
There is no biblical command or hint that supports that kind of fathering. Fathers are respected, or not, but the things they are teaching their kids do not instill the love of God, but fear, which is a stolen form of respect. It’s not genuine. It’s not honor and it’s not a reminder, encouragement or urging. And, if you are leaving marks and welts it’s abuse, no matter what child rearing book or website tells you.
I have called Child Protective Services on a family I know. Twice. I called the sheriff’s office twice. Their behavior towards their children is reprehensible. They deserved to have their children taken away from them, but it didn’t happen. I know CPS is an overworked organization, and the children were not in danger of live or limb. What I hoped was a scare – enough so they might re-thinking their child rearing ways. They did not. Their oldest appears even more withdrawn every time I see him and it angers me so much that parents would (a) do such a thing to their kids or (b) that a mother would let this happen. I am still dealing with these feelings.
The problem with the family I listed above is that they are certain this is the way God wants them to parent. Others have confronted them, and the dad’s response has been to beat his children for revealing their family secrets. His behavior is abbominal, but it his behavior. I have to give it to him, not take it for my own.
Why do I bring this up? It’s an ignored verse. I have never heard a sermon preached on it, nor a parenting book with a chapter on it. The things in it are difficult to do, but not impossible. It’s a very high standard, one I will pray over with our families in mind.