Each father has his own list of hopes and dreams for his kids—stuff like “He’ll hit the cover off a baseball,” “She’ll be president,” or “He’ll make enough money to buy me two homes in the Bahamas.” Then, of course, there’s one of my goals: “She’ll laugh at my puns, and her dumb jokes will be even cheesier than mine.”
Clearly, I’m a flawed human being. However, that doesn’t stop me from having a list of lessons I intend to teach my daughters before they grow up. Top of the list is a love for God and His Word and faith that He truly is their Savior, the one whose plans for their lives outweighs all of my own. I pray that in His good grace God uses even my corny dad efforts as He teaches my lovely little ladies the truths that really matter.
For what it’s worth, though, I’ve assembled a sampling from the list of lessons I plan (and currently attempt) to teach my children.
Love for Movies
I’m a writer, so, duh, I love stories. Books are a gimme. Unless they’re ignoring my very existence (and that of my book-loving teacher-wife), my kids are going to be taught a passion for books. But I plan to put special effort into teaching a love of movies. I savor the thought of picking the very best films to teach them the beauty of comic timing, the epic sweep of a timeless adventure, or the brilliance of a line not spoken.
How to Cook
The cook picks the food and, sometimes, is off the hook for doing dishes. Plus, when it comes to making friends, impressing guests, or romancing a special someone, few skills top the ability to cook mouth-watering food. I also wouldn’t mind waking up on a birthday or anniversary to discover my daughters preparing warm cinnamon rolls and airy soufflés.
We live in a world of rudeness. People are obsessed with their looks, their popularity, and their self-interest. My girls are going to learn how to pay attention to the needs and efforts of others. They’re going to give kindness, even if it’s not given in return. They’re going to learn that the effect of a few uplifting words can be immense, but that words alone aren’t always enough. Mercy and grace are priceless gifts from God. I will train my children to be merciful and gracious to others.
The Awesomeness of Board Games
Perhaps my second comment after our eldest was born was “Yes, someone who will play board games with me!” (While my wife tolerated this, it may not have been the wisest words or timing.) And while Candyland, memory match games, and Chutes and Ladders have their own charms, we’re finally getting to the more advanced games, and I am experiencing exactly what I wanted. Woohoo!
How Their Husbands Should Love Them
I love my wife because she’s my wife—my one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, beyond-anything-I-deserve daily blessing from God. But I am specifically mindful to show love to her in ways my daughters can see and appreciate so they take to heart exactly how actively their future husbands should love and sacrifice for them. I hope that my lovely, intelligent, talented daughters expect as a bare minimum from their husbands the love and service they see me give their mother. If I don’t set that bar as high as possible, I have no right to complain about the men they choose. I intend to make those guys work mighty hard. My girls deserve nothing less.
How to Grow Up
Here’s the lecture: “Grown-ups take responsibility for their actions. If you do something wrong, admit it, apologize, and do what you can to make amends. If you do something right, don’t brag about it. Good choices don’t need a pat on the back. By practice, they make you a person who gets in the routine of making more good choices, and that is its own reward. And the very best way to be a grown-up is to realize that you don’t have all the answers or all the responsibility. God will always know more than you do, and He is more than capable of taking care of the big picture.”
How to Not Grow Up
I love coloring pages, and not just the sophisticated ones now popular with adults. Give me crayons and a picture of Cookie Monster or just a cowboy on a kid’s menu and I’m happy. Same for building blocks, cartoons, toy cars and race tracks, or the many, many, many stuffed animals who live throughout our house. As an adult, I still believe in imaginative play and that sometimes all you need is your hands and the invisible worlds you pretend are hidden within them.
How to See Hidden Beauty
Anyone can see a Rembrandt, a Van Gogh, or a stunning multi-colored sunset and find beauty. But I want my daughters to appreciate the beauty of an old man’s wrinkles, an off-pitch children’s song, a dying flower, or the unbreakable loyalty between friends. If such beauty makes them cry, all the better.
True story—there hasn’t been a single moment of my life where I felt I needed to earn my father’s love. It’s been there, steady and unquestionable, no matter what I’d done or what I needed. At times when I was younger I even complained that his praise was too easy to earn. I was an idiot.
Love like that from my earthly father taught me more about my Heavenly Father than a century’s worth of lectures could have. I want my daughters to learn that lesson too. I want them to know and feel my love so certainly behind them and before them that God’s unfailing love is a foregone conclusion. If I teach them just one thing, they will know love. They will know that my love for them is immense. More important, they will know that God’s love is better than mine and that even when mine fails, His is enough.
Grab your crayons and enjoy these coloring pages adapted from The Love Bridge.