I watched the movie “Courageous” recently. It was about four law enforcing officers with one calling: To serve and protect. When tragedy struck home, these men were left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their roles as husbands and fathers. This kept me pondering for a long while as to my role as a dad. A father’s influence in our neck breaking pace of modern living is a concern for many today.
In June 2010, an International Conference on Fatherhood in 21st Century Asia was jointly organized by Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Family Research Network, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. Dads For Life, an initiative of the National Family Council, Gender Studies Minor Programme, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, National University of Singapore and the report on “Child Care and Parenting Practices in Singapore: A Focus on Fathers” caught my attention. The study on 530 parents (248 fathers and 282 mothers) and children ages 10 and 12 shows that only a very small number of fathers were main caregivers to children across all age groups. This study proposes future studies to identify factors, which could boost father’s involvement in child care. Another topic of interest is “Men’s Transition to Fatherhood: Experiences of First-Time Fathers with Fathering, Marriage, Family and Work-Life Issues”. Is this not pre-parenting? This study highlighted the inadequacy of father-focused services and fatherhood preparation in Singapore despite the fact that the transition to fatherhood is a meaningful yet challenging life-changing experience for men in their life cycle. This study shows that:
- First-time fathers’ preparedness was influenced by their own father’s influence.
- Alternative modeling was particularly important for those who did not have a good role model in their fathers.
- Marital quality of the couple deteriorated after the birth, especially during the initial months after birth.
- Fatherhood transitional adjustment outcomes depended on pre-preparedness.
The study stresses the need for support and guidance for men when they start as new fathers. It’s easy to assume that your journey as a father starts when your little one enters the world, but the mark of a great father starts even before your bundle of joy takes that first breath. Interestingly, I’ve witnessed many young parents making headway preparations for their “unborn” child in terms of insurance policies, educational advancement and even professional pathways. What irony, when the child is ushered into this world, parents spend all their wealth and health ferrying the poor child around from one center to another. I have observed how most parents have not really done much to help their children pick the best profession in life. If you have helped your child to come to this world, then you can go a step further to find out his or her part in life.
Most parents have ignorantly misled their children in life. They have made them go after professions that what they feel should be appropriate when in actual fact it is totally contrary to the path the child will follow in life or the plans of God for them. I hope most of you still remember the Bible passage that was preached in 2009 on the series from the book of Judges. How this Bible parent who played the required first role in the life of their unborn child. The Bible verse is Judges 13:1 – 14. Manoah and his wife (parents of Samson) actually did what most parents don’t do; they asked God about what their unborn child is coming to the world to do. Manoah would love to be given divine instructions and recipes; some kind of guarantee of how to succeed in raising a nice and decent child. You can learn from them. This act should be the first role you play in the life of your child even before he or she is born.
- “…teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.” (Judges 13:8)
- “…what is to be the child’s manner of life and what is his mission?” (Judges 13:12)
- “…All that I commanded her let her observe.” (Judges 13:14)
While Manoah was desperate to know about brining up his son, God simply told him about the importance of (his wife) obeying the instructions he had given her for her life during pregnancy. God was simply stressing that careful obedience to Him is to be the backdrop of bringing up children. So often parents want techniques for successful child rearing but God insists that what you are and how you live are the key things.
Back to the movie “Courageous”, what struck me was the commitment made by the men to be faithful to God as the spiritual leader of their home. Here’s the resolution:
I DO solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.
I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. —Joshua 24:15
Blessed Father’s day to all and also look out for the screening of “Courageous” on 20th July (Friday) in True Way. Let’s walk across….. to invite our love ones, friends and colleagues to join you for a movie night.
Pastor Cheng Huat
June 3, 2012