I'm sure this is a problem area in all households.  It just seems to be a fact of life and an insight into how human beings behave in their true nature as they are growing up.  I always try to imagine myself in the shoes of the peope I encounter, so that I understand how and why they are communicating to me in the way that they do.  So, from the words of my daughters and my fractured memories of being a teenager, I try to weave a plausible understanding of where they are coming from -- what intent they have, what motive they have, whether they seem to be responding to the lessons that I and my wife try to teach them about life and responsibility.  But I always remember that they are not me.  They are unique creations of the Father's hand with their own innate personality and weaknesses or strengths.  I have a responsibility to the Father to carefully shape them into fully functioning adults up to the moment that they finally take wing and fly from the nest.  And I'm sure I'll still have responsibilities to them after they are independent.  I willingly would help them in any way that I could at that point because I still love them very dearly and want what's best for them in God's eyes.  I want them to have a joyous life in their walk with the Lord and to have close communion with the Father just as I have had.  I want them to see the Father the way I see Him now in His indescribable love for us.  But I must always remember that I am not the best judge of what's best for them.  God is.  And I cannot see all the multitudinous variables that can and will contront them in life.  But God can.  So I always have to remember that my children are a precious gift of the Father to me on loan.  I do not own them, but I am responsible for the outcome of their character as they grow  in their walk with the Lord.  Perhaps my overwatch responsibilities will be lifelong as I will always be lovingly concerned for their well-being, even when they are independent just as our Father in Heaven is so lovingly engaged in and concerned for His children throughout the Earth.  It is a humbling thought to realize what a glorious process I have been involved in.  I am working for the Master, doing His will, as He has guided me, and I have submitted to His hand ever learning while I am going through the process of teaching.  But in this process, I realize that the best way to communicate what is right and good is to actually do it in front of them.  They must see me carrying out all the principles that I have taught to them from the Lord so they will know that it is important and that it is do-able.  When they see an example of how its done, then they will learn much more than my nagging or constant reminders will ever possibly teach them.  I just have to keep my patience and speak often with the Lord to be reminded what specifically I am supposed to do to help them learn responsibility in any given teachable moment. We as a family are all growing together, simultaneously learning the lessons that God has prepared for us as individuals.  They have some growing up to do, but I also still need some guidance in my growth toward the man that would best please God. 
We have Mother's Day coming up this Sunday, so most people are focused on honoring or thanking their mothers for the many sacrifices that mothers make.  I'm sure there are many such sacrifices that my own mother made and which I will never fully understand until we stand with the Lord and have all questions answered.  But a sound family must have both a good, dedicated, active mother and father, regardless of what popular opinion may be.   In fact, the impact of the father whether good or bad is arguably much greater on the psyche and general success and well-being of the average person.  History strongly suggests this, criminal justice professionals who pick up, engage, and manage the broken pieces of society know this, and I'm confident that you, the reader, know this, having a narrative of your own father in your life that has had a deep and lasting impact for good or bad. 

I wish my own story of my father were better than the reality, but such is not the case.   And the burden of his failings has had a definite impact on myself, and I'm sure, on my siblings as well.  But as with many lessons in my life I have learned more from those that did it wrong than those that did right.  Those in leadership positions, including my father, that treated me wrongly throughout my life, taught me the depth of the impact on the psyche of those that receive such poor treatment.  A leader is a de facto father (or mother) in the workplace, the community, church, classroom, etc.  I was often surprised to see how a friend of mine years ago would subconsciously place upon our mutual leader the responsibility to compensate for his own father's failings.  I'm not even sure if my friend was cognizant of what he was doing, but I knew of his struggle with his harsh father.  And I could see so many times that he immediately viewed many of the behaviors or actions of our leader through this cracked lens of his own father and therefore judged those actions and behaviors in a way that did not correspond with or even starkly contrasted with what I knew of the leader. 

This is the baggage we carry about our fathers and mothers.  We interpret so much of the world through the lens of these people that we first encounter when we are new to the world and trying to grapple with and understand the amazing spectacle of life that we are thrust into.  Those early experiences run deep and carry some of the most important clues to who we are and what this all means.  So, such experiences can have a deep and lasting impact on how we interpret and react to life.  The simple messages that are so carelessly placed upon a child's soul during those times can be critical to their ultimate self-worth, to their belief in the value of living, and to their understanding and choices about their obligation to the rest of the world.  Small things can seem to be so much larger in the limited context of a young life. 

So, fathers (and mothers) are important, and once we get to those places in life that we fill those roles, having already been impacted by the good and bad examples, we should be already convinced of the importance of getting it right.   And knowing the importance, we should have that much greater motivation to get it right.  But this is where human frailty often comes in and dashes all the best laid plans of mice and men.  Individual responsibilty, though, if grounded in the first principle to "love thy God" and (by obligation to God) "love thy neighbor" should give us sufficient incentive to act.   

In any case, fathers are critical in our development, and much of what we go through and experience as fathers once we reach that plateau in life enlightens us to the character and mind of God.  As a young man, I was vaguely aware of these concepts that we could understand and interpret who God was through the evidence He left behind -- or that we could know His character by the principles stamped on his handiwork (creation) -- or even that we could understand His heart and motivation by the various situations we encounter with nature or people (life in general).  But I was a fledgling in the world, just trying to grasp the more basic things and more consumed by what my responsibilities were and perhaps more engaged in the various dissipations of life whether for relief or pleasure.  It was an aviator friend, who ultimately became a missionary, that truly exposed me to the rich revelation of God's heart and intent by his simple, pure example as a good father himself.   But perhaps just as important were his simple words that compared much of what he did in life to how the Heavenly Father works, thinks, and acts.  

I had never realized before what a profound concept that was and how it so easily helped me to interpret what God was doing in my life and to understand God's heart and mind.  I have so often used that concept to explicate my understanding of my role with my family, to understand what God would want, or what God would do in my shoes, given the limitations, demands, and frailties that I am subject to.  This concept often guides me in my actions and simultaneously reveals to me the mind of God as He gives inspiration during these acts as to how He would act and what pleases Him. 


    I'm a father of four teenagers.  My wife of 26 years and I homeschool our children and have always done so.  We have two in college now, and the other two are close on their heels.  The six of us have had the privilege of living in several states and visiting numerous European countries while I was in military service.  We currently reside in Elizabethtown, KY. 


    May 2012