How you doin Christian dads? It's a hard gig hey? And something that makes it a billion times harder is our male self-doubt. Mums have this thing called mumma guilt. They feel the ways they fall short as a mum incredibly strongly. It can be crippling for them. But dads generally have something a bit different. We don't tend to feel mumma guilt as much as our female counterparts do. Instead we suffer from a phenomenon that I call Dad insecurity. Or Daddynsecurity if you will.
What is Daddynsecurity?
As blokes, we have a deep desire to be respected. We don't have to be the best, but our dignity requires some appreciation. Just having others be aware of our work, talents or efforts is often enough to keep our dignity in tact. But any sense of contempt, ridicule or even indifference can be paralysing for us. We desperately need some positive feedback, and even minuscule amounts (eg. a knowing look) can be enough to keep us afloat. But there are so many places that we are at risk of having our daddyinsecurity pricked. Think about all these different people who look on at your parenting:
friends at church
randoms at the shops
Who on that list gives you the deepest sense of fear that they might think or say something negative about your fathering? Which one gives you your significance depending on how they respond? If your kids don't like you or respect you, do you find that tough? Does your mother-in-law destroy you with her comments or rolling eyes? What about your pastor or God?
Our problem in daddynsecurity
Here's the problem: when we look to people's respect of us for our significance and worth (not that we would ever think in those terms) we will always be left wanting. Because we are sinful, broken creatures we can never earn people's (or God's) respect enough to satisfy our deep insecurity. What we need is unconditional love. And that needs to come from God. We don't need his respect for our parenting, we need his love despite our sin. And when we know we have that, and his love defines us, then we are free to succeed or fail in anyone else's eyes (or God's for that matter). This is liberating.
What daddynsecurity does to our kids
But daddynsecurity doesn't just affect us. It affects our kids too. When we are seeking respect from anyone for our emotional security, we turn life into something that is about us, not God. Our kids will pick up on this. They might not say it, but it they will likely incorporate it into their thinking of what life is all about. Me. And let's be honest, they don't need any extra motivation to do that!
Ways to fight it
So what do we do? Well all is not lost. Although we'll never completely conquer our daddyinsecurity this side of heaven, there are some simple things we can do to fight it now.
There are some things you can say that will help push against the grain of daddyinsecurity. Little things you can say to yourself and others that it's not all about you and your respect.
"That's ok, I'm loved by God" - when you fail at something
"That's ok, I'm loved by God" - when you succeed at something
"I'm more sinful than you could ever know"
These phrases show yourself and your kids that there is something more important than your respect. And that is God's love.
Humble prayer will help your heart. What I mean by that is to include things like confessing your sin in your prayers. Passionately asking for forgiveness. Deep gratitude to God for his love and salvation - from the bottom of your heart. This will remind you of your standing before God and help you rely on the cross above everything else. Letting your kids hear some of these prayers will go an incredibly long way too! (Praying that God would help you trust his love and fight daddynsecurity won't tend to go astray either!)
Daddynsecurity is different from mumma guilt, but they both come from the same place. When you recognise mumma guilt in your wife (if you have one), remind her of the gospel, and help her see that she is a loved child of God. When your kids are disobedient, remind them of the gospel, and help them see that they are loved child of God (if they trust in Jesus). As you tell others this message, it will help to lock in the truth for yourself. But you do still need apply it to yourself. God's grace is epic. It's way more abundant than our shortfalls and sins. So even when we keep stumbling in daddynsecurity, we have somewhere to go. Jesus. And the more we keep crawling to the cross, the more we preach the gospel with our life. The more God gets the glory. The more our kids capture what is most important. And that is something worth doing I reckon. See more For Dads Only posts here.