These are some of the things I put into practice with our children.
1. Lead the family daily in devotions and prayer. This is the responsibility of every Christian father. “…a father tells his sons about Your faithfulness” (Isa.38:19.)
2. Take a child or children with you when you are doing something out of the house. “And he went up on the mountain and summoned those whom he Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him…” (Mk.3:13-14).
My father had a saying: “Me and Thee…” (My Grandmother was a devout Christian. I assume she was familiar with the King James Version).
In February 1969, my father took me to watch Australia play against the West Indies at the SCG in Sydney. I was 13, and Australia was batting. I can still recall the scores, and who was playing. There was Wes Hall, Charlie Griffiths and Gary Sobers from the West Indies, and Bill Lawry and Doug Walters for Australia, who scored 151 and 224 respectively.
Two years later my father was dead. That day at the cricket is still a happy memory.
3. Do things with children individually, including playing with them. They will remember this, and they’ll know that this was important to you. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov.13:20).
4. Value your time with them, and engage them in conversation/discussion. What do they think? Speak of natural things and spiritual things. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut.6:6-7).
5. Find out their interests. There might be a career or calling in there somewhere that should be followed up.
6. Pray with each child at bedtime. This can be a time of one-on-one each evening, when the child has the opportunity to share something with Dad. That way, the child understands that “this is important enough for Dad.” Once, when I went to my son’s bedroom to pray with him, he was unhappy with me because I had upset him earlier in the day about something. I needed to apologise to him, and I did. He was then at peace with me. “The child that goes to bed happy, wakes up happy.”
7. Take them to your work-place where possible, so they can see and understand what you do. It may be of interest to them.
8. Talk positively about your parents. This is a way of honouring them. What you do for your parents, your children will learn to do for you.
9. Take an interest in their sporting activities, and if possible teach them some skills. This is important to a child. My father was a competent sportsman, playing cricket, tennis and table tennis, and I learnt to play these games.
Teach children how to win graciously, and lose politely, with good manners. (They will need to handle both winning and losing, right throughout life.) Encouragements in these kinds of abilities can assist a child in many ways in adulthood. Some sporting abilities pass from parents to children, and sporting opportunities that they have in adulthood should not be new for them.
10. Take an interest in what they are learning, daily.
11. Teach them how they can learn, using books, the internet and other people.
12. Teach them the things that you can do, and how to do things (like cooking on the B-B-Q, changing a car’s wheel, or growing vegetables), when they are ready. “…the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing” (Jn.5:20).
13. Every father should teach his children to respect their mother, and ensure that they do so! This is an aspect of the Fifth Commandment. We do this for our wife’s sake, our own sake, but also for our children’s sakes too. It is for their good, “…that your days may be prolonged in the land…” (Ex. 20:12).
14. Be careful who they are interacting with, and who are their friends. I know of one father who unwittingly let an adult “friend” be alone with his sons, only to find out many years later that this man had been intent on their sexual abuse.
Sometimes, “Christian” friends are not what they appear to be. I know another family, where the father’s authority and reputation was quietly undermined for years by a teenage son’s “friend,” who consistently made accusations against him behind his back. It took years to restore the father/son relationship. “…the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov.13:20).
Conclusion: Being a father is an exciting opportunity, along with an important responsibility. We are to represent God to our children, and the Bible says “who is a teacher like Him?” (Job 36:22) Finally,The most important issue for a child’s education is their parents’ example.