Gentleness. It doesn't sound like the most manly of traits. It feels as though it fits more with wuss and sissy. But gentleness is actually an incredibly manly category, and an incredibly important one when it comes to fathering. Because although our kids often love a bit of rough and tumble, and while blokes tending to take more risks than their wives can be a really good thing, our kids are still vulnerable and delicate. And we must take great care as we seek to raise them in the Lord. The one command to fathers in the New Testament tells us to not 'exasperate our children' (Eph 6:4). One of the quickest ways to fail in this command is to lack gentleness.
Wanna grow in gentleness? Here are 3 habits to help you move in that direction.
Firm not fierce
Something that is important for dads to do is to lay down the law in the house. We need to clearly establish right and wrong in our homes, and maintain godly standards. This comes from a place of strength. However, we can either be brutal or tender in the way we maintain these standards. We want our kids to learn that we care about the good and the true, and yet we don't want them to be so afraid of us that they grow to hate the truth. So working on how to be firm but not fierce is important. The tone of your voice will be a huge indicator to your kids. Remaining calm while holding the line will go a long way.
Get down for a chat
Particularly when disciplining your kids, taking the time to get down on their level (physically) and hearing from their perspective will be huge for them. If you are able to stop and listen, they will feel understood, even when you still hold your position. It will show them that you care about them, not just about the rules. It will be a beautiful display of uncompromising gentleness. And it will also mean you get to know your kids better! Totally worth the time and effort.
The tender touch
If you can, try to work a moment into each day to give your kids a physical expression of your tenderness towards them. Some kind of gentle touch. It might be cuddles when they are younger or a shoulder squeeze as they growing up. Something that says, 'I love you and I'm here' can go a long way. As dads we are often not the most physically affectionate people, but some gentle touch will convey a lot to our kids. For their strong dad to indicate that he will protect them and they are in his care will help them feel safe in a range of different ways.
Gentleness is not weakness. In fact it comes from a place of strength. Gentleness is using strength to love, care and protect. Jesus claims that he is 'gentle and humble in heart' (Matt 11:29), and he shows this most incredibly by the laying down of his life to release us from the heavy burden of sin. Men, we can follow in the footsteps of our great king, our older brother, as we seek to be gentle with our kids. Not only will we be a great model of Jesus to them, but it will enable us to connect with them far more easily and rather than exasperate them, we will be able to 'bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord' (Eph 6:4).
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