Those first few minutes after Dad comes home…

By Elizabeth Prata

I grew up in a non-Christian home. My father was a strong atheist. He worked hard, very hard. In his mid-thirties he left the family business and struck out on his own, starting his own manufacturing company. I admired him for that. It’s not easy.

He worked long hours, and being a boss in a new start-up in difficult economic times was frustrating. He often came home angry or grumpy or just wanted to be alone. He was not very much interested in the family anyway, so when he came into the house he went straight to his bedroom and closed the heavy door. Then locked it.

The lock was solid and made a loud CLICK when it caught. I hated that sound. Though too young to understand why, I often cried when I heard it. It was a barricade. Dad was inside the room, and we were excluded. The family seemed fractured at that point. Wasn’t Dad happy to be home? Didn’t he want to see us as much as we wanted to see him?

The excitement of dad returning home as always dampened by the reality of him sequestering himself in his room for long periods. When he came out it was dinner time then bed, and we were away from him for another night and most of a day.

The Bible has much to say about fatherhood, being specific in some areas and in others leaving the practicalities up to us to implement.

Fathers are to be compassionate toward their children, (Psalm 103:13)
They are to be patient and not provoke them (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21)
Fathers are to display integrity (Proverbs 20:7)
Dads are to be leaders of the household (Genesis 18:19; 1 Corinthians 11:3)
Husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loves His church (Ephesians 5:25)
But not to be harsh with them (Colossians 3:19)
And discipline his children (Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 3:11-12)
He is to teach them (Proverbs 22:6)
Fathers should love their wayward children too (Luke 15:20-24)

In all, He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, (1 Timothy 3:4).

My own father has passed away by now, gone to his eternal resting place, but I often still think about how fathers impact daughters. Well, I’m not the only one who is mulling over this relationship of fathers to his family. On Twitter we read from Michael Foster some practical takes on those precious moments when the father re-enters the home after a long day away at work. [Note: I’m unfamiliar with the entirety of beliefs of the person administering the Twitter account, but I thought this particular tweet series was worthwhile].

I hope you do too. 🙂

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Michael Foster @thisisfoster

1) For years, I’d expect my family to leave me alone for a period of “decompression” when I got home from work.

I’ve always worked in highly relational/conversation based jobs. I’d often arrived home in a very overstimulated state and disappear to my office.

2) My wife would want me to deal with a discipline issue with a kid or be interested in what happened in my day. My kids would want to tell me about their day or have thousand requests requiring permission from dad.

But I just wanted space. I was fried. “Give me a min, family!”

3) I slowly came to see that this was a missed opportunity. It really was a failure of leadership. The way I re-entered my home after a long day of work played an important role in the forming of my home’s culture.

A man doesn’t just provide resources. He provides leadership.

4) I decided that I would use “re-entry” as an opportunity to provide leadership with 3 habits:

#1 – I didn’t listen to anything on the way home. I used the drive to pray, organize my thoughts & prepare myself to do some more work. Habits two & three flow from this first one.
5) Habits 2 & 3 start the moment I walked thru the door.

#2 When I get home I asked my wife if there were any discipline or pastoral issues that needed a father’s touch (Heb. 12:11). There are many situations in which a mother needs the father to step in. Jump on those!

6) After dealing with my kids, I move to

#3 Telling my wife something about my day. She’s been with kids all day. Zero adult conversation. Moreover, she is the key support to the mission I’m engaged in. I want her to know what she is accomplishing by being a ‘helpmeet’ to me.

7) I see a lot of complementarian pastors chiding men for not chipping in with the dishes & laundry.

I rarely do either. I’m not above it. She just usually has it knocked out.

Plus, me fathering my kids & encouraging my wife does 10x more for wellbeing of our household.

8) My household doesn’t need a second mother. It needs a father. These habits have helped me get to that work the moment I walk thru the door. Find what works for you. Look for ways to seize all opportunities to lead your home.

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prata place graceful garlands 43 final father