Many fathers possess a desire to fix things. It is unfortunate that the desire does not always come with the requisite skill. For example, in an attempt to save money and establish myself as the household hero, I decided that I would perform a brake job on the Grand Caravan many years ago. After a quick trip down the road to the local auto parts store to grab some brake pads, I scurried home and recruited the assistance of my then 11-year-old. Four hours later, holding a broken calliper in my hand, looking at the face of my bored and resentful son, listening to the bristle in my wife’s voice as she called for a tow truck, it occurred to me that knowing something about brakes might have been helpful.
For good or bad, fathers often want to fix things. This even applies to the relationships with their children. While the sentiment is noble, such problems require more than a man with a tool belt. Daughters desire connection with their fathers, and that connection is not built on the premise that she needs fixing. She wants a father who listens. This listening, which takes time and patience, fosters trust.
Sons tend to emulate their fathers, often unintentionally. While they aspire to independence as teenagers, many adult males admit to being more like their fathers than they ever anticipated, both in good and bad ways. Sons want a father who sets the right example.
As such, a loving father seeks not to fix his children’s problems but gives his children what they need.
Consider the words of one such famous son called Jesus:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” -Matthew 7:9-11
While His words encourage us to ask our heavenly Father for things, the underlying point is that the Father will always answer us with our best interests at heart. He will not merely “fix” a problem, but He will respond in the way that’s best for us. Earthly fathers would do well to learn from His example.
Strategies for MAKING THE CHANGE from Fix-It Man to Father:
1) Date Night – Granted, this phrase translates better with daughters than sons, but the concept works regardless. If you’re not sure of a location for such an event, I am confident your kids have no shortage of ideas. Past experience proves that pizza and French fries will likely be involved. As long as the venue provides you the opportunity to spend time with your children, you’ll be wisely investing in the people you love.
2) Ears Over Advice – A wise friend and loving father caught my attention the other day with brilliant advice about raising kids. Ask yourself, what do you want to hear come out of your children’s mouths ten years from now: “My father was great at giving advice,” or “My father was great at listening to what I had to say?” Let’s be honest: advice is free because nobody wants it. Do your children need advice? Of course, but because there’s no shortage of it, we might do well to consider shutting up and listening for a change.
Finally, if you ever get the urge to involve your son or daughter in a fixit job, remember that it’s not about the kitchen sink or the brakes as much as it is about the time you invested in the well-being of the people you love the most.
Could you imagine being given the job of fitting a square peg in a round hole? The idea that someone would remunerate you to perform a task that is categorically impossible seems preposterous.