“Dear sons” is made up of a series of advice a young father, Martin, wants to instill in the lives of his children, Moshe (8) and Elliott (5).
Fatherhood, Martin has learned, can be challenging, and often reveals our inadequacies. But it also provides us—and not just our children—an opportunity to learn and grow.
So to all the fathers out there, let’s take heart and continue to do our best, not giving up on ourselves or our children, just as our Father in heaven has not given up on us.
Dear sons, it’s my desire for you to love each other the way you would love yourself.
They’ve both been competing to see who is their parents’ favorite child, with the eldest child blaming his younger sibling when things go wrong. When this happens, I put them both on timeout, and in the timeout area, I’ll get them to apologize to each other. Then, I make them work on getting their story straight. My wife and I also use this time to regather our thoughts. Once timeout is over, we regroup as a family, apologize to one another, and find ways to solve the problem wisely. I often remind them that families have to stick together, and God’s love is the glue between them.
Dear sons, I want you to grab hold of every learning opportunity available to you, to stay curious, and to grow your God-given talents.
I encourage my sons’ learning by allowing them to play and experiment with new things. The most recent one is a time lapse video my eldest son made of his drawing – it took him an hour to draw just so he could do his video. He was so proud of his accomplishment, he would watch the video on repeat. This exercise has taught him that in order to do a marvelous job, extra effort is often required. We’re also constantly removing their old artwork to make space for newer ones. I find that it teaches them not to rest on their laurels, and it pushes them to continually create new things. In a way, it allows them to grow their God-given talents.
Dear sons, the world isn’t always an honest place, but I want you to speak the truth, regardless of the cost.
Not too long ago, I noticed that our sons would ask us for permission to do things that we wouldn’t normally allow them to do, for instance, play with an Ipad, when we’re really busy. When I asked them why, they said they had cottoned on that my wife and I were less strict when we’re busy, therefore more likely to grant them permission to play with their iPads. I appreciated their honesty (and their cleverness in making use of the situation), but reminded them that they shouldn’t use their intelligence to their advantage, but to see how they can use it to help other people. As parents, we want to respond to our children positively, even if they’re confessing to something naughty that they’ve done. We don’t want them to think that they’re “finished”, but to be able to talk to us honestly about their mistakes. It’s like us going to God with our mistakes, and He’s always there to listen, help, and guide us.
Dear sons, the world can be an intimidating place, but I want you to be able to face this world with God as your guide.
I want my sons to make friends with fear, to know that fear is a necessary ingredient to be brave. My eldest son once got the scare of his life after watching a Jurassic Park movie with his cousin. He was overwhelmed by his imagination of bad guys or accidents. We took him to a counsellor to see if there were any underlying issues, but turns out he was fine. So I used this chance to teach him to make friends with fear, to learn how to face and overcome fear. I get my sons to read the bible before bedtime, so the last thing they remember is that God’s word matters and would help them conquer any fears they have.
Dear sons, there’ll be critics out there telling you what you can and can’t do, but my hope for you is to pursue the plans God has for you.
My sons love drawing, and the eldest wants to be a comic artist. To encourage their hobby, I’ve art paper readily available around the home for them, and I give them their own space for their creativity to show (even if it means sometimes the house looks a little messy). Sometimes they draw on their bodies, but my wife and I don’t tell them off for it. We just want them to be comfortable expressing their creativity. My wife and I are very careful not to place our dreams on our children, but to help them uncover and pursue the plans God has for each of them.
Dear sons, life will bring their storms to you, but I want you to be able to smile (even if it’s hard) when the days are darkest.
I want my sons to be able to laugh even in the face of a storm, even when life gets really hard. For instance, when they cry because they’re unable to solve a math problem, I tell them to fake a smile, and soon it becomes a game of laughing even in a stressful situation, and soon they’re both laughing. And sometimes, the problem they’re facing then suddenly becomes easier to solve!
YMI (which stands for Why Am I?), is a platform for Christian young people all over the world to ask questions about life and discover their true purpose. We are a community with different talents but the same desire to make sense of God’s life-changing word in our everyday lives.