Setting Specific Dates for your Children

This is a conversation that I’ve never had before. I’m curious how Jeff will react to this one. Ancient fathers had the practice of setting specific dates for their children. And this happens in our culture a little bit, but we almost never talk about it. Like I said, I’ve never heard about this. This is in the Bible a lot. It’s really interesting to think about some of the verses. Let me just read three of them to you guys.

In Acts 1, Jesus said, he was asked by his disciples, “Lord, will you, at this time, restore the kingdom into Israel?” Right? This is just before the Ascension. And Jesus says, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the father has fixed by his own authority.”

Similarly, in Matthew 24, when Jesus is talking about the end of days he says, “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen. Not even the angels in heaven or the son himself. Only the father knows.”

And then in Galatians, Paul is using this analogy about how the law was sort of like a guardian. He uses the similar idea here. He says, “I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. But he is under guardians… ” This is his analogy of the law. “And managers until the date set by his father.”

One of the things that you as dads need to do, and our Heavenly Father does this a lot obviously, it’s all throughout the Bible, is he sets dates. He decides… In our culture, one of the examples with this comes up a lot is fathers a lot of times will set a date for when their kids can start to date the opposite sex, right? We have a little bit of this going on, but this is a really important thing.

Set a date for when your child can get their first computer or their first smartphone, right? You set a date when your child needs to get a job. You can set a date for when your child needs start paying rent or start to ramp that up. It’s really important to set these dates out in the future so that your children can kind of anticipate, and sort of trust you and your authority, and see this as a part of your responsibility and that you’re caring for them. Because your wisdom is really important for setting out these dates.

For really little kids, we had all these kind of dates, like the date when they could first chew gum, right? We did not want our really little kids chewing gum, and so my wife said a date. You can’t chew gum until you’re five. And each one of our kids just could not wait to turn five. It was like the biggest deal when they were a little because they wanted to chew gum.

That’s a little example, but I hadn’t thought about this and I’m curious, Jeff, what your thought. Because just this is a very consistent theme throughout the Bible, that a father sets dates. The more I thought about this, the more I realized, man, this is such an important responsibility and one in which we can really help our kids aim their life in a better trajectory.

Yeah, and I agree. And I think the first thought I thought of is, specifically, I think where this plays out the biggest is rites of passage. And so a father marking the time when their son or daughter crosses over into an initiation, into a rite of passage, into kind of a new season of adulthood and what God’s calling them to do and their mission that they’re taking up from the Lord.

And so I think that’s huge. Yeah, I think that is up to us as fathers to because here’s why. I think if you get down to the why, it’s God, I think, has equipped fathers to be the stewards, fathers and mothers, but to be the stewards of our kids’ vision and future. Now, of course, with flexibility and there’s this kind of Venn diagram of crossover and it starts stretching or they get older and older of them kind of seeking the Lord on their own behalf.

But especially when they’re younger, we’re called to seek the Lord on our kids’ behalf. And I think what that does is then the Lord will speak to us and say, “Hey, I want you to shepherd them in these moments, in these times, in the seasons.” And I think we’re created for that. And then the gum example you use, I think is a perfect example. I think then just more smaller ones or ones that aren’t necessarily a rite of passage are still deeply important and really fun, especially if you have more than one kid, because it kind of creates a family culture.

And I would say actually play up the funness of them, right? Like, “Hey, in our family you do this. You get this at this age. You get this at this age. You get this at this age.” And then you see your siblings getting it. It actually creates a really, really, really fun family culture. And especially I can see it creating a really fun family culture of people kind of like rolling up their sleeves and working a little harder or like chomping at the bit to get there, or kind of this excitement, kind of gamelike mentality.

I think playing that up is actually really beneficial to the culture of the team and just kind of the discipleship of the team. I think then older siblings have really fun opportunities to kind of tell the younger siblings how it went and what it was like, and here’s the date it happened and it’s going to happen for you on this date, and stuff like that. I would say that’s really, really important.

But yeah, I think that’s a fascinating thought, and this one I’m actually really, really excited to hear other people’s thoughts. We’ll bring this one to the Facebook group, if you’re in the Facebook group Five Minute Fatherhood, and we can’t wait to hear what you think.

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