By Michael Holland
There are times as a father when I believe I’m being very open and un-controlling. I express my concerns or thoughts and then leave it up to my kids to make the decisions they think best for themselves. But there are subtle ways that we still control our kids, even if they are often done unknowingly.
“I care that you get a good education”
Where’s the line between guiding your kid to college and guilting them into college for fear of disappointing you because of your dreams?
College is extremely valuable, and as a seasoned man, I can see how college helped me in life as well as how the lack of advanced education hampered others. The reality of earning my college degree created a very personal and biased perspective: this is the lens through which I view my history. But it also creates an invisible calculation of the value that process has had on my life.
So in spite of this lens, I need to remember that my kids have to find their own reality, separate from my dreams and passions.
“I care that you know God”
We each have a scale that we use to determine our perception of the depth of belief and faith a person has in God. Of course, this scale is completely biased and fully judgmental in its application.
I want my kids to know God, but what do I really mean by that? Where do I subconsciously place my kids on my biased scale? And maybe more importantly, where do I place unintended influence and pressure on my kids should they feel a gap between my perception and their own perception of themselves on their own scale?
Do I want them to simply label themselves as Christian?
Do I want them to be believers or followers or disciples of Jesus?
Do I want them to pursue God?
My journey with Jesus has built my personal lens through which I see the value of both the journey and my belief, but my kids need to pursue their journey in their own ways because it is their journey, not mine.
As Men and Fathers
I believe the line we are supposed to walk as men and fathers is this: we must behave in ways that will show our kids what is important to us.
They will know what we believe not by what we say, but by what we do. As we do this, our kids will create their own lenses through which they will watch and learn from our behaviors.
We own the behaviors and they own their lenses. If asked, we can let them take a look through our lenses, but we shouldn’t force our lenses upon our kids, knowingly or unknowingly, even with the best of intentions.