The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.
Some good friends from my previous hometown stopped by this weekend, offering the chance to catch up on life and fill in the three-year gap since our last conversation. As you might guess, it was great to talk with them, but seeing how their children had grown and changed might have been the biggest news of our encounter. Wow! Life moves by quickly, doesn’t it? Few things say “you must be getting old” quite like hearing someone who should be six years old say they just turned ten.
But when it’s your own children–the ones you see every day–such realities have a way of sneaking up on you. In fact, one of the great challenges of parenting is realizing how old your kids really are. No, I don’t mean you forget their birthdays or can’t remember what school grade they’re currently engaging. It’s just that your little guy or girl can be reaching new milestones and challenges before you’re ready.
Navigating the stages of a child’s life demands that parents see what’s coming and actually get to the next stages of a child’s life before the child does. Dads who can’t see that their daughters are growing up, usually aren’t ready for the young woman their girls are becoming. In the same way, a son can stand on the edge of manhood while dad keeps treating him like the kid he used to be.
Your kids are growing up, dad. And as the guy in their lives who has walked the road they’re on, you need to stay ahead of them. You and mom need to be talking about what’s next rather than refusing to face where your kids have already arrived. If you treat your big guy like a little guy, you will frustrate him. If daddy doesn’t can’t face that his little girl isn’t so little anymore, he likely hasn’t prepared her adequately for what she’s facing right now.
Dads who maintain a healthy relationship with their kids are usually those who aren’t surprised by the upcoming stages of the journey. They know their children are encountering various challenges a few years earlier than he did. They see the potential temptations and danger zones before the child sees them and they figure out how to be the wise leader their child needs before such moments arrive.
So, yeah dad, she’s growing up and you’re getting older. That’s not a fun thought, but denial won’t give you any lasting encouragement. See your kids for who they are and let your knowledge of what’s ahead motivate you to anticipate and strategize today’s needed action. Your kids can only trust your experience if you’re ready to answer the questions they’re currently facing.