Raising a family is a daunting task, not for the faint of heart. Our modern times are filled with a ton of choices, distracting us from sure-fire habits that sow good things into our family. We have a huge responsibility. However, what one thing has proven best in this task over the years? The one fatherhood secret that can secure your child’s future — if anything can — is reading to your children. We must be examples. This doesn’t mean perfection, however. Which is good as none of us can achieve that. But, as followers of Christ, we as fathers and mothers should long to lead our children to be even more fervent than we are. This means being a teacher, a mentor, and a friend as they grow into young adults.
This Fatherhood Secret Will Secure Your Child’s Future
Fathers, our words are powerful. When we read to our baby, we are securing a bond to our words. It is easy to let the TV babysit an active toddler, but the love and affection both given and received at the youngest of ages is a foundation for teaching and modeling the important lessons in life. Our words matter. God’s word matters even more. How can we build into our child if we have not bonded with them? So, whenever you have a chance during the day, read to your little one and, if you run out of books at bedtime, make up a story or tell your kids stories of what your life was like as a kid. A key aspect of fatherhood is to never underestimate the power of your words!
Our touch is needed as well as our words. Being present in the moment is a losing battle with smartphones in the way. Jesus, God Incarnate, touched people. He is the “word become flesh” who was and is present with us through the Spirit. When we read to our kids, we sit beside them, hold them, and pass on the message that they are loved by us. Another aspect of fatherhood, Dads, is that it’s also okay to run around a bit and play. You can even make a fort to hang out in when you read. These are memories for both you and your child that are priceless anchors in your relationship.
As my kids grew older, we would go from reading the picture books to things like C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and sections of Mere Christianity. It is never too late or ineffective to attempt to read to your kids, in my opinion. The first phase as a teacher means passing on the knowledge. When you become the mentor to your teens, you can then dialogue at a deeper level about the story and the truths in what you’ve read. As they become young adults, you add the role of a friend who is able to be a sounding board to their deepest questions about faith and life.
How do we see our children? How do they see us? The intimacy of hearing our voice and feeling our presence is punctuated by our gaze into our child’s eyes and soul. To be seen is to be valued. Jesus looked into the eyes of his disciples, the poor, the outcast, and the sinner. We hope to build the kind of gaze that would empower our kids to become the best versions of themselves, but the most important thing about our eyes is the look of approval. To see us approving of who they are, our children will aspire to be even more. So then the hope for them is to see the look of our Heavenly Father’s approval—the one who made them and the one who knows them.
I am in the Book of Revelation with my teenage son at the moment. We made a plan together to read the entire Bible by the time he graduated high school. Reading the word of God out loud to your kids at any age is the pinnacle of anything you can read. The Bible is the most honest book, even about its own heroes, than any literature in history. The incredible thing about these habits of reading to your child is that it builds you as the parent, as well. The joy of learning your child’s thoughts and seeing the wonder in his or her eyes cannot be replaced by the blue hue of your smartphone. I think if there happens to be a silver bullet in fatherhood to secure your child’s future spiritually, physically, and emotionally, it’s reading to them.