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A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my struggle with pornography as it became my medication to cope with the ills and pains of life but more importantly how I viewed myself. I was overwhelmed by the response to that blog post. I had many people; men and women, fathers and mothers reach out to me about the small and big ways they had let sin and vices grip their hearts much like pornography did for me. I want to encourage you to continue to fight for your heart.
As I mentioned in my post, my son and I were going to need to talk through this. I needed to share my struggle with him. He is 15.
So, we went for a drive. Why is it that while you are driving it provides the right atmosphere to pour your soul out? Anyways, I was nervous (actually I was ready to soil myself). We started talking about school and life in general. As we talked I began to realize that in some ways I had built a strong foundation for this conversation. I have stated so many times to him, "Son, I love you and you can share anything with me." In some ways, the opposite was true; "Dad, I love you and you can share anything with me."
As we drove I started sharing with him my story. He was very quiet. After I finished sharing my story and heart there was a long silence. I finally spoke up, "well, what do you think?"
He paused. "I am shocked and surprised." He then says something that shook my world. "Dad, I now understand why you tell us all the time to guard our hearts."
"Yes, that is why!"
As we went home I felt the peace of God come over me. I thought, "This is the power of the Gospel! To redeem what was lost. To experience Grace not shame. To know the true power of His redemptive work was not fully experienced when I accepted Christ but to experience His redemption through my failures as a man and as a dad."
Fruit Doesn’t Fall Far
Have you heard those sayings? “Fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree” or “Like Father, Like Son” or Like Mother, Like Daughter.” I will bet you most of us parent out of some of our most painful or rewarding moments. For example, I stayed away from alcohol growing up. I remember early on in life as a toddler going to a bar with my dad. Once he accepted Christ he gave it up and that lifestyle. He would often share of the foils of alcohol. I remember once he shared when he was in the Navy and would wake up in jail in a foreign port wondering what he did to get there. That had a profound impact on me as his son. Little did I realize that I would trend towards other vices to cope with life. I think that as parents we are so intentional in protecting them from the world and the things we got into as kids and adults that we never share the why we want to protect them.
Now, I am not suggesting that our kids need to know every sordid detail of our lives. I am suggesting that our children need to understand our worldview of things. Because the reality is the fruit doesn’t fall far and they might have the same tendencies we do.
Like Father, Like Son
Getting out of that car that day made me come to a deeper understanding that as a dad, I hold the keys to my kid’s faith and heart. My son now understands at some level about "guarding your heart." I also realize that this is just one moment in our journey together as father and son. I realize that my job as a dad is never over even after he has left home which that day is soon approaching.
I don’t want him falling into some of the same traps I have. I can either do that by stating, “Don’t do this or that!” or I could say, “Son, let me tell you the story of how I got this scar.” It could mean all the difference for him…and honestly this is one introduction I cannot miss, “hello, my name is Dad.”
Roy Baldwin (@baldwin_roy) is a contributing writer for Dad Matters and the Director of Parenting & Youth at Focus on the Family.
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--Great post, Roy. What an awkward, difficult conversation that must've been ... but dads are supposed to do the tough stuff, right?
--Thanks Paul. We are asked to do the tough stuff. The greatest lessons I have ever learned is through my challenges and failures. Less of me, more of Christ. I am sure we never think of it this way but I am sure the Lord continues to be on the end of difficult and awkward conversations with us as His children. Praise the Lord He is always loving and gracious in his responses.
--I salute you for your courage and wisdom in dealing with your struggles and using them as an opportunity to share with your son and guide him in the right direction. That must have been a great challenge for you but I believe it would have been much more difficult if you had found out your son was on the same path and you hadn't known about it. I think that, at the appropriate age, pre-teen to teen to young adulthood, dads need to gather the courage to share these stories with their sons and have them know what challenges and temptations will be out in the world and the damage they can cause. It's a good coaching technique, as a coach you already know what will happen in the game because you played that role earlier in life so it's time to share the experience to avoid repetition. My kids are still toddlers but with this kind of wisdom from dads like you, I hope I will be prepared when the time comes. Thanks for sharing
--Thank you for sharing your stories. I belong to a ministry at my Church called Celebrate Recovery ~ Hurts, Hang-ups and Habits. What you are teaching is so very important. It's about breaking that cycle for future generations with God's love. My Church also has a group for teens called The Landing.
--Thank you for sharing your story. I must admit that I as well have struggled with the same thing and I want to thank you for sharing how you told your son about it. Even though my oldest son is two and my youngest is 5 months old. I pray that one day when my son is older that I will be able to have a similar conversation with him to try and help him learn the lessons from my experience so he doesn't have to learn them the hard way like I had to.
--Amen to all!
We are asking prayer for a family friend who is now intentionally and determinedly pursuing adultery. Don't know how it started, but this will tear each member of his family and circle to shreds!
As God reminds you, please pray that "Theo" (not his real name) repents and follows God's plans.
Thanks so much!.
--So, what next? As a parent (dad) you have the conversation. You do the "Purity Challenge" from another ministry. You pray over your teen and for your teen. You block and monitor. You begin a study of the book of Proverbs. What next? This is the cry of a mom's heart.
--@jblevins. First of all, let me affirm you in your intentionality with your kids. It sounds like you are doing lots of the "right" things. Is your concern the fear of your teen falling into these traps or despite all your efforts and intentionality that your teen has still fallen into temptation?
Thanks for commenting and asking your question.
--Thanks again, Roy for your ministries. I also want to affirm the ministry of Celebrate Recovery, which is active in my church, too.
And especially, I want to report that "Theo", mentioned in my 11-22 request above, has turned the corner -- willing to sever wrong ties and work on his marriage. PTL!
Again, if God brings them to mind, please continue to pray for this family, as the hard work begins now! Thanks so much.
--Still guarding our hearts! "Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow -- blessings all mine with ten thousand beside. Great is Thy faithfulness ...."
--@icare. First of all, thanks for the update. We Praise The Lord for His active pursuit of our our hearts and how He loves to redeem our stories. Thank you. We will continue to pray. It is a long and hard journey but so worth it. Keep up us updated and if you or they need any support we have an amazing ministry that loves to support the process of redemption. Thanks for following us. Blessings to you! :)