A wise man once told me, “…what you practice in moderation, your children will excuse in excess.”
That’s a profound declaration, and if we conduct an honest assessment, we will find that it is an unswerving truth. Yet, when you hear a statement like that, it typically leans to the negative. For instance, Dad slips and cusses in front of the kids, just one time, and soon the teenage son justifies a constant stream of profanity.
But, what about the positives?
It’s no shocking revelation that as dads, we will slip-up, and quite often, in front of our kids. But, they are not just observing the failures, they also are witnessing the good. When they see you consistently take the shopping cart back, when you open the door for an elderly person, when you thank a soldier for his or her service, when they see you live, “I love you” to your spouse…it makes an impact.
When my boys were young, our family volunteered to serve Thanksgiving meals to those who were homeless, or simply without family, for the holiday. My wife and I helped set out chairs, clean tables, run food to and from the kitchen, and chatted with those we were serving. Our sons carried desserts to the seated guests of honor and carted trash to the bins. At one point, we couldn’t find our youngest son. Of our three children, he was the busiest, and quite often the orneriest. When household chores, or homework beckoned, he was the first to disappear. I immediately caught myself thinking, “That kid. He has no desire to help or serve others. He’s all about himself.”
After consulting with my wife, we went opposite directions in the large dining hall, searching for our six-year-old, wayward charge. Imagine my surprise, and conviction, when I spied him . . . sitting across from an elderly gentleman, laughing and talking a mile a minute. The old man’s eyes gleamed, and I was thankful that in a sea of parenting failures, I was witnessing a win. Even if it was small. Even if it was just for a moment.
I am not a perfect example. I can see the worst and the best of myself in my now-grown sons. But, one thing that is consistently remarked of them, is that they all are servants; two of them serving in the military and our oldest in ministry. And when any of us care, love and serve others, it seems to more than balance out our flaws.
I am reminded of the following: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8.
In the very real and rewarding struggle we call “parenting,” especially “DAD” parenting, I am immensely grateful for the “coverage.” As I am still challenged to serve, may you be, as well. Don’t underestimate your example because your kids will benefit from your service. They are watching. Give them something positive to emulate. You won’t always be perfect, but you can strive to be steady.