Denzel Washington On Fatherhood and Family values

Make it easy for your child to believe, love, and obey a good God.

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So, anytime someone in Hollywood says something that makes sense, it should be memorialized. Furthermore, if the statement contains wisdom, then we should probably scream it from a rooftop.

All jokes aside, after I finished my Bible reading (Psalms and Acts today) and prayer, I glanced at the news. I like to scroll through headlines and read a few articles. Most of the time, you can scan headlines to keep up with current events (a tip to leaders who need to stay up on what is happening in the world). Today, an article about Denzel Washington caught my eye.

Denzel Washington stars in ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.He has always been one of my favorite actors. Granted, I have not watched every film he has been in, but I enjoy his work. He has just recently starred in the film, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” written and directed by Dan Gilroy. In what is called a “press junket” (language I borrowed from the link), he made the following statement about fatherhood:

“It starts at the home…It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure. So, you know, I can’t blame the system. It’s unfortunate that we make such easy work for them.”

The sentence, “If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure,” is one of the most powerful statements I have ever read or heard pertaining to fatherhood.

The article where this quote is found ends with the statement, “Traditional family values, the left has long said, are racist, sexist and chauvinistic.” He is right. Of course, this will not be a popular view among feminists and the lesbian community. In an overreaction to male chauvinism over the past few decades, the feminist agenda quite often swings to the other extreme, claiming that the male presence is not needed. It is superfluous. A woman can do the job of a man.

I don’t agree.

Let me flip this around as well: A man cannot do the job of a woman. Now, of course there are jobs and roles that both can fulfill. I am not denying this. But I don’t believe this is possible in the home. My main point is that both genders offer something unique to children and society at large. It is a sign of ignorance and superficiality that on one hand, our society trumpets the message of our uniqueness and value as individuals while on the other hand attempting to eradicate gender lines that contribute to this uniqueness. Essentially, our society preaches, “Select the gender that you want to identify with in order to express your true self.” Self is central. Self is God. Therefore, self-expression takes precedent over all else. Arrange everything else accordingly. A byproduct of this movement is that gender becomes arbitrary and thus motherhood and fatherhood can now be fulfilled by anyone no matter their biology.

Being married to someone of the opposite sex and having kids truly opens your eyes to the distinctness of each gender. When I am playing rough with my son, my wife always says to me, “A boy needs a daddy. He gets things from you that I can’t give him.” This truth goes both ways. I also cannot give him what she provides. Together, he is given fullness. He is offered the opportunity to see a more complete and complex picture of who God is. I do not mean to imply that the categorical lines are thick. Different men and women have different temperaments. Some men will be strong in areas that women typically are and vice versa. But my point is that in general, both genders were created to mirror the person, wisdom, and beauty of Christ in different ways.

Back to fatherhood. If you are father, read these words and take them to heart. You may be living under the same roof as your children but be totally absent. This kind of fathering can hurt children just as badly if not worse than an absentee dad. You are there and won’t even look at them. At least the child of an absentee father can make up reasons why the absentee dad is not present.

The bottom line is this: A child will find a father. If you are a dad, you are in position to be that person. With your time, laughter, silliness, wisdom (taking advantage of teaching moments), money, worship, acts of kindness, words and tone, and the way that you treat others (including your spouse!), shape your child. Make it easy for your child to believe, love, and obey a good God.

As a parting thought, I believe that there is something to the fact that some of the most significant, anti-Christian philosophers in the Western tradition did not have a father-presence in the home during their childhood. Arthur Schopenhauer lamented the loss of his father when he was 17. He spoke of the negative impact this had on his life. Friedrich Nietzsche, who famously wrote, “God is dead,” lost his dad at age four. And Jean-Paul Sartre, the philosopher in which Atheistic Existentialism reached its peak, also grew up without a father.

Remember, fatherhood counts. If you will not be the dad of your child, someone else will.

You can find the quote from Denzel Washington along with a short article by clicking on the following link:

Denzel Washington on fatherhood, family values – Washington Times

Lessons My Dad Taught Me 

One of the best ways to love your children is to love your wife. 

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My dad keeping my son occupied!
Yes, I am aware, Father’s Day is past. But who cares. The real dads know that there is really nothing special about that day. Fatherhood, like motherhood, is an everyday affair. Besides, I was too busy playing Guesstures with my family last night, Face-timing my brother and his family, and talking with my father-in-law and mother-in-law to stop and write a silly blog. Life happens when technology is in the other room.

I am one of the lucky one’s (i.e. blessed!). I had a great dad. I have a great dad. I learned several life lessons by hanging around, observing, and listening to him.

When I think of fatherhood, here is what my dad taught me:

  1. One of the best ways to love your children is to love your wife.
  2. You father differently based on the age of your children. As they grow and mature, you adapt.
  3. Laugh and have fun.
  4. Live outside!
  5. Fan the flame of their dreams. There are already enough nay-sayers.
  6. Let your kids ride places with you. Life happens in the little moments.
  7. Have serious, strategic talks when the time is right (birds and the bees, respecting authority, etc.).
  8. Listen to your children.
  9. Don’t expect the church to do your job as a parent.
  10. Be the person you want them to be.
  11. Raise them to know that if they don’t live wholeheartedly with and for God, all is wasted.
  12. Be willing to apologize to your children when you are wrong.
  13. Coach your kids little league team.
  14. Don’t share financial struggles around your children.
  15. Teach your kids how to tie a fishing knot.
  16. Let your kids see you disagree and go back and forth (within limits; of course much of this needs to be hashed out behind closed doors).
  17. Teach your kids when they get older how to safely handle a gun.
  18. Allow your older kids to disagree with you so long as they remain respectful.

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Dad and I catching rainbow trout in Spokane, WA.
This list is by no means exhaustive. I left out numerous stories that my friends have encouraged me to turn into a book. I might, so I can’t share those now (lol)!

I am reminded of John Maxwell’s quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In the context of fatherhood, what a powerful statement. Be sure to share your love before you try to impart any lessons.

Love opens the heart.

Love earns the right to be heard.

May we as dads love our wisdom into the hearts of our children.

Thanks dad for loving me and my siblings the way that you loved us.