The Importance of Instructing Your Children

Sometimes we like to share quotes, tease them out and really get at a really foundational element of fatherhood. I ran across this one and wanted to chat about this for a little bit. H. Jackson Brown says, “Life doesn’t come with an instruction book. That’s why we have fathers.” Man, I think this is a piece of ancient wisdom that people used to have a deep understanding of, a lot of people still do, but I think is increasingly getting lost. That is that it is critically important for the father to understand that they have a role in teaching their children the basic way that life works. That’s the reason why the book of Proverbs exists. This is Solomon saying to his son and then to all of his children, multi-generationally that, “Hey, I spent my whole life trying to figure out how life works and I want to pass those on to you in these little wise sayings so that you can understand it.”

So it’s really important to be collecting Proverbs as a father and talking to your kids about, hey you see that situation, you see where it’s both going on there? Let me give you some insight into how that works. If you imagine that’s constantly happening, really taking advantage of each of those teachable moments, that is such a powerful way to prepare your kids for the future, to train your kids to be good parents as they get older. Sometimes I like to think about this and just the basic answering the what, how and why questions for your kids. Oftentimes when they’re young we’re oftentimes explaining the what to them. You’re just saying, “Hey, this is what that is.” They don’t really know what a car is or that animal, or you’re reading little books to them.

Then they’re a season where they oftentimes are ready to build like skills with their dad. So you’re constantly explaining how things work. This is how a car works. This is how plumbing works. This is how your spiritual life works. Then, as they get older, and we’re definitely getting into this season, is I feel like I’m constantly having deep abstract why conversations.

Philosophy, morality.

Yeah. Yes. Each of those journeys with my kids has been really fun. I love each one. I actually really miss the earlier stages where you can just explain to a three year old what something is. Sometimes we’re having these really deep conversations with our kids about why something works the way it works, which I also love, love, love. Each of these is just so much fun. I think that part of what’s really important as a dad is to just take on that responsibility as a privilege. You get to be the life manual, the instruction book, for your children. It’s important to take on that role and take advantage of opportunities.

Jeff, how has this worked out for you guys?

I love that. I totally agree. I think it’s really important for the mom and the dad to both do that. I do think we see dads do it less. I think that’s why we even want to harp on it too, of dads have such an ability and gift to do this to their kids.

Two things I think of. The first one is, I think it also goes to show it’s a really good way to subtly teach your kids about the Lord, in the sense of how he actually operates. What I mean by this is when you’re a disciple of Jesus, you’re an apprentice of Jesus. When you put it in this bucket of apprenticeship, not just like knowledge taker, you know what I mean? When you follow, you study, you learn, you glean from all of the organic, dynamic parts of life, that’s how Jesus taught, as a rabbi, as a first century teacher. He was dynamic and they were his apprentices essentially, following and studying for a long period of time in close proximity, watching behind the shoulder.

That’s how you want to treat relationships with your kids. I think when you do it like that, actually what you’re also doing is you’re giving them a really beautiful framework they can immediately transfer it to Jesus. This is how to follow him. Not just facts, not just knowledge, not just whatever, but it is facts and knowledge, but through this dynamic peeking behind the shoulder way. That’s what I would say with that.

Then I had a second thing that spaced my mind, but I think it’s just really, really important. It’s really, really important to do this. This is what life is actually about, is to pass on those breadcrumbs of life. Most people remember that type of stuff, then the big thing, or the huge thing, or the overly planned thing. It’s a lot of the stuff in the margins that sometimes the Holy Spirit uses in a really powerful way. So don’t neglect those.

Sometimes I’ve been shocked at what my kids remember me saying because of the moment that it got stated in.

Yes, yes.

It was a very memorable moment. We were in this particular place. They are wondering a particular thing and I forgot that I even said it. It snuck in there right at the right time. If you just rely on a school system or just downloading information, your kids are not going to remember a lot of that stuff. They’ll remember when their dad said particular things to them.

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