A Father’s Ten Commandments

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/06/16/a-fathers-ten-commandments/

Happy Fathers’ Day. Get back to work.

Even on this day, you are on the clock. Your children are watching and listening.

Thus, I offer you a Father’s Ten Commandments.

Read it with humility. That is how it was written.

God help us all.

1.  Your Soul Comes First

Sounds a little selfish to put yourself before anyone else, but we’re talking your soul, your lifeblood. Dads will get all kinds of advice about spending time with their kids and being present (some of which is spelled out below), but is your presence empty of meaning? Your own soul must be nourished, if you are to nourish others. (Remember the airline instructions in case of emergencies:  apply your own oxygen mask before taking care of your children.)

2.  Love Your Wife

We are imperfect but love never fails (1 Corinthians 13: 8-9). It is an absolute lesson to teach your children. However, the lesson is weakened considerably if Dad does not love Mom. This is a community you’re building, based on a committed love. The lesson extends beyond creating a secure home life. Love includes respect, and if you do not respect your wife, how do you expect your sons to respect women? How do you expect your daughters to avoid men who do not respect them? 

3.  Your Family Comes First

Yes, the first commandment still applies. We’re talking about how you apply that soulful life of yours. Having children is not something to check off the bucket list; they are not part of your life, they are your life. Your work is not about your fulfillment (a bonus, if it is fulfilling) but about providing for your family. Your time is now a commodity to give away — make time for the whole family, and for each of them. Schedule that time like you would for any valued appointment. Remember the stories passed on by Hospice nurses:  They never heard a patient regret not winning more accolades or making more money; the wish was for more time in relationships.

4.  Demand Honesty

Big lies, little lies … they all must be dealt with.  You’re building character here, not efficient machines. Without honesty there is no trust. How do you build community without trust? If your children learn they don’t have to be honest with you, they won’t be honest with themselves, and integrity goes out the window.

5.  Be A Role Model

Like it or not, you are already a role model. Everything you do, the good and the bad, you are being watched, and copied. Everything.

6.  Apologize

You will make mistakes. Own them and apologize. Pride has no room in this inn. Ever chastise one child and then realize it was not his or her fault? (Guilty.) Apologize without excuses. Expect the same from your children.

7.  Don’t Apologize.

No, this is not a contradiction. You are not to apologize for the “inconvenience” of living life the way you believe it should be lived. So, you do not apologize for bringing your family to Church (even if it’s a beautiful morning for other activities, or the hockey coach scheduled a mandatory practice). You do not apologize for assigning chores because everyone contributes to the community (and therefore does not get paid). You do not apologize for not being like all those lenient parents that opt for the easy way out.

8.  Retain Authority

This could also be called the “because I said so” rule. Parents are the authority. Kids may have a say (especially as they get older), but this is not a democracy. If my teen-agers don’t like my decision, I remind them that in a year (or two, or three), they will be out of the house and can do whatever they please. But until then …

9.  Blame It On God

Why do I make decisions for my kids that are not popular? Don’t I want my kids to like me? Of course I do, but I tell my kids that I have to answer to a higher authority. “God put you guys in my care. If I screw this up and let you turn out to be irresponsible, unloving slugs, I’m in a lot of trouble.” (Or, as I tell them, “I’m not taking the fall for you.”) God is the creator and gave me children. They are not my possession.

10.  Say It / Do It

Saying “I love you” never gets old. It is not corny. It is essential. If you are a father, loving your family with all the commitment, care, and respect your soul can manage, is the only way to live.


Kevin Thomas is a writer and former teacher living with his wife and children in Standish, Maine.