7 Virtues Every Father Should Teach His Children4 min read
Fathers find it difficult to make time for parenting. We have work. We need time for exercise and rest. But that doesn't excuse us from our responsibility to our children to teach them virtues.
The time a father invests in his child's moral development by teaching virtues is the greatest investment he can make in his child's future. It's more important than buying your child a car, investing in college, or paying for a wedding.
Why Virtues are Important
Virtues are the right behaviors that go along with the moral standards we value.
Teaching virtues isn't something that can be fully delegated to mom.
There are virtues best taught by fathers.
Children look to their dads as much as they look to moms to learn the difference between right and wrong.
Taking time to teach your child virtues is an act of love.
Preaching isn't teaching if the actions don't match. Spend quality time with your child and show them the virtues. Actions speak louder than words.
Here are seven virtues to start with.
- Initiative. At home and at work, don't be the kind of person that waits around to be asked to do something. Look for what needs to be done and do it. I work on teaching this to my children by helping my wife clean up the kitchen after a meal, and by having a list of tasks that need to be completed around the house.
- Integrity. Keep your promises. Commitment doesn't come naturally. It takes effort. That effort is strengthened when we choose to follow through with what we say were going to do...no matter what the cost. That means when I agree to do something for my child, they can rely on me to do it. I expect them to be reliable, too.
- Honesty. Without honesty we have very little upon which to base our trust in relationships. Let your child see that your words are always true. While our tendency is to point out a child's lies, work at giving more attention to when they tell the truth. Thank your child for being honest, especially when you know it was difficult for them to tell the truth.
- Patience. Most of us have a hard time with the in-between times. We find ourselves expecting more things to happen right now. Science demonstrates that there is actually more happiness produced by anticipating something good than by that good thing happening. Show your children how to patiently wait and you'll add to their ability to be happy in life.
- Courage. Courage is the ability to stand firm and go forward in the presence of fear. Encourage your children to do things they're afraid of. Talk to your children about your fears and how you face them. Teach your child to stand by their convictions. Show them how to be true to yourself, and to God, when it is not the popular thing to do.
- Diligence. The world needs more people who finish the work they start. People who excel in life are those who pay attention to the small details and add polish to their work. As Jesus said, those who are a faithful in the little things will be trusted with much (Luke 6:10). Whether it's sweeping the garage, cleaning a room, or mowing a lawn, show your children how to do a job well.
- Practical usefulness. The constant stream of activity and entertainment in a child's life allows little time to learn anything about what it takes to maintain a household. Take time to teach your child how to hammer nails, and cut with a saw. Show them how to check the oil and change a tire on a car. If you manage the household budget, let them see how you pay bills and balance a checkbook. If you don't know how to do some of these things, learn them so you can teach them.
For Single Moms
Single moms have the hardest job in the world. If you're one of those moms, allow God to be your husband. Ask him to bring a safe man, or men, into the life of your child who will model and teach these virtues.
If you're a man without young children, be a father to the fatherless. Mentor children in your life who need a positive male role model, or volunteer for an organization that provides mentors for children.
One More Thing
My son Matt and I recently built his clubhouse together. I wanted to get it done in a couple of days.
Matt wanted to drive every nail on his own. So, I did the cutting, he did the hammering.
It took over a week.
I got impatient sometimes. I apologized.
I learned to slow down and let him learn.
As you teach, be patient. Don't hurry. Don't be harsh. When you say or do things you regret, apologize. Your child will respect you for it, and they'll learn another important virtue--humility.
Which of these virtues have you been teaching your child? What virtues would you add to the list? Leave a comment--I'd like to know.
Fathers: Taking time to teach virtues to your child is an act of love. #fathersday
A version of this post also appeared on Lifezette.