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For Dads Only: Are You A Dad Or A Father?

Dads, if you're anything like me, you definitely prefer to be called dad, rather than something formal like father. And this is fine. We're blokes living in the 21st Century. We call our kids, kids - not children. It's part of our culture. But there is something that we need to be careful about. You see, the same cultural things that drive us to want to be dads can also leave us completely missing the mark in our role as fathers. And this can have a significant impact on our kids.

Dads and fathers - aren't they the same thing?

Ok, yes the words dad and father mean the same thing in our language. However, I think they do tend to represent different things. When I hear dad, I think:

  • fun

  • mucking around

  • friend

  • cheeky

Dad playing with his son

But when I hear father, I think:

  • discipline

  • order

  • teaching

  • respect

Do you recognise some of these differences? Dadhood seems more like a hobby or a volunteer role that is enjoyable, while Fatherhood feels more like a job that is hard work and one in which you need to be responsible. These are two different approaches to bloke parenting, and they come about because of different goals we might have. (Obviously we will have a mix of both, but let's keep them separate for a moment to make the point).

Goals of Dadhood:

  • a good, friendly relationship with your kids

  • lots of fun times

  • personal fulfilment

  • kids who can make their own path in life without too much pressure from their parents

Goals of Fatherhood:

  • mature kids

  • kids with great character

  • kids who understand reality

I think seeing some of these differences can help us know what we want to aim for as dads. And (spoiler alert) I reckon we need to shoot more for fatherhood than for dadhood.

Fatherhood first

Dads - when we look at the Bible, it presents a picture of Fatherhood more than anything else. Check a couple of passages that talk about it.

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. Proverbs 4:1

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

The Bible presents a picture of fathers who want to raise kids who are mature, full of character and follow the Lord; regardless of whether they end up as friends with their kids or not. One of my issues is that I often want to be a dad first. I want to have fun. I want to enjoy my kids. These things are good - don't get me wrong - but if they are what I'm pursuing first, I won't be able to achieve the goals of fatherhood. If I'm all about being a friend to my kids, they won't listen to my instruction. If I'm the cheeky dad first, they won't respect my character and want to follow in that way. But if I pursue fatherhood first, and my kids trust me as someone who shows them how to live and directs them in the paths of life and maturity, there will still be plenty of room for fun and friendship. But I need to keep reminding myself which one comes first. With parenthood comes great responsibility. And it is a responsibility to God and my kids - not a responsibility to enjoy myself. Keep calling yourselves dads - I will. But let's work together to have a Fatherhood approach first, and not simply a dadhood one. Keep your eyes out for more fatherhood tips coming soon.


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