Every dad is different. But there are biblical principles that should guide a father’s parenting. Here are some of them, and what that looked like in action when I was growing up.
Dad taught us the Word. Though he was a pastor, the main way Dad taught us the Bible when we were little was through family worship. Every night: Bible reading, discussion, prayer, singing, catechism. Sometimes Dad was exhausted, sometimes we wouldn’t stop laughing, sometimes the phone kept ringing, but family worship was still consistent. Those times, with their age-specific teaching, enabled us to apply basic biblical principles to daily living, but also to “get” what was going on in worship sooner than we otherwise would have. It didn’t stop when we got big, and it put things into our heads that have never left.
Dad protected us. None of us (there were six) ever doubted that Dad would do whatever it took to keep us safe. A father cannot protect his children from everything—only God is all-knowing and all-powerful. But a dad should provide safety where it is possible. When we were hurt, we went to Mum; when we felt vulnerable, we went to Dad. One time we were at a large picnic gathering and another big kid who was prone to bullying held me under water in the pool. Other adults intervened and I popped up, but despite being a strong swimmer, it scared me: I went and found Dad. There was no hug or “You’ll be all right, Honey.” Instead, there was one question—“Where is he?”—then about ten minutes later the assurance that the kid would never come near me again. He didn’t. Dad had made it safe. When a child has protection and knows it, it gives them freedom.
Dad provided for us. Growing up, we knew nothing about our parents’ finances. We only knew, and we only had to know, that there would always be food on the table and a roof over our heads. Dad was a hard worker, and we understood that it meant we would have enough to eat. That also gives a child security.