by Fr. James C. Meena


When the Creator of all things required anything of His intelligent creatures, He communicated His expectations to them by one device or other. He was specific in advising Adam and Eve of that which He expected of them and that which they could expect from Him in return. He spelled out with great care the things He expected of Noah and his family in the days immediately preceding and in the years following the Great Flood. The eyes of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were always opened to God's wishes.

The Scriptures make it clear that the relationship between father and children is clearly established by the relationship of God to His creatures. Our Heavenly Father did not allow us to grow by accident nor did He take us for granted but He always spelled out with great care how we, as His children, should comport ourselves in every area of our lives, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that one of the fundamental tasks of a human father who considers himself to be a son of God, in his concern for raising his offspring as children of God, is to communicate with them lovingly and as patiently as possible. A father should not and cannot expect the moral and godly upbringing of his children to be successful if he ascribes this upbringing to the accidents of fate and makes no positive contribution to that upbringing. If a father relates to his children honestly, with integrity and with love, communicating to them his hopes and expectations yet never imposing upon them to the extent that he stunts their growth or strives to mold them into character patterns which are inconsistent with their personalities, if a father communicates to his children a genuine sense of awareness, compassion, expressions of pleasure and approval when merited and concerned disapproval when it is called for, if a father is willing to instruct his children, to praise them and to punish them when praise and punishment are called for, but never to impose praise or punishment in a manner that is unfair or lacking in justice, mercy or compassion, and especially if a father reinforces these lessons to his children primarily by his example as he relates to his spouse and to other members of society, he will then have successfully emulated the loving concerns of the Original Father Who established the patterns of fatherhood for us all.

The Book of Proverbs is filled with advice and admonitions to fathers as to how they should relate to their children. Some of this advice applies literally today. Others must be applied in the context of our modern society. I should like to emphasize that none of these proverbs is based on action alone, but they grow out of an implied example which is to be set by fathers for their children. It is eminently unfair for any parent to impose disciplines upon his children that he is not willing to impose upon himself and it is equally unfair for a parent to expect his children to live up to standards in childhood which the parent has only been able to achieve in adulthood. The idea that children are little adults is fallacious and it might be more accurate to say that adults are really grown up children in many areas of their personalities.

With the increase of "peer pressure", we are discovering that young people are most easily influenced by the standards, rules and morals set by their "friends" and by their idols in the world of entertainment when fathers abandon their roles as pace-setters, fail to communicate their expectations and are either overly-strict or overly-permissive, thereby transmitting an "I don't really love you" message to their children and receiving a similar reply, usually in the self-destructive or uncreative actions we see abounding in our youth today. This process will change only when the process of positive communication between parent and child becomes a reality.

So many fathers I know do not bother to equip themselves to have even an elementary dialogue with their kids. While they might teach their sons to play sports and spoil their daughters with all sorts of "goodies", they cannot explain even the most basic matters of life and living such as love, morality, respect and sex. When asked, they too often hedge or side-step the issue one way or other.

Father's job — communicate! If you love your children, tell them so and show them. Raising your kids is not "Mama's" job or an accident of fate … You are the main man!

From Word Magazine
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
June 1977
p. 17