Ep. 51 How Can I Help My Husband Engage Our Children More?
Photo: ©StefaNikolic from Getty Images Signature via Canva.com
Shows Main Idea – This podcast walks a wife through how to lead her husband to be a more effective practical leader with their children. It strikes a balance between how to be intimate with them and their biblical authority at the same time.
Podcast Question: What does a good father actually do on a day-to-day basis? My husband does not practically get into the lives of our children and they feel distant from him.
- If you only read this and move to the next thing, then this content will not help you.
- If you spend months working on this content with your husband, then it will benefit you.
- If your marriage is too fragile to work through this content, then find help so you can benefit from the content.
- Read my article, How to lead your husband.
- Download and work through my book on communication.
The goal for all of Christians is to emulate God. Paul was clear in Ephesians 5:1: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Ephesians is divided nicely and wisely into two parts: (1) How to be saved and (2) how to behave. He begins the “behave” half by saying imitate God.
In Philippians 4:9, Paul said, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” You can make that verse practical by telling your child the following:
My dear child, this is what I want you to do.
- Everything you have learned from me.
- Everything you have received from me.
- Everything you have heard from me.
- Everything you have seen in me.
Regularly, daily, and practically practice the things you learned, received, heard, and seen. If you do, I will make this promise to you: The God of peace will be with you.
That is every parent’s marching orders, as well as the rest of us in every context of our lives.
Fathers Imitating the Father
Two anchor points: His transcendence and immanence:
- Transcendence: existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level.
- Immanence: existence and experience that is near the child: God is with us.
A transcendent only dad is a “distant dad” that will teach the child about a distant God. An immanent only dad is a “buddy dad” who will not teach the child about respect, honor, discretion (self-control), fear, and sobriety.
Worst case scenarios:
- The mean transcendent dad can mess up a child for life.
- The catering immanent dad spoils the child for life.
God is both transcendent and immanent. In this podcast, I will speak to the practical immanence of God and how it relates to the father/child relationship. The saying is that the devil is in the details, and he will be in the details of a child’s life if the father is not.
Strengths and Weaknesses
We naturally gravitate toward our strengths. If a father is not getting into the details of a child’s life, then it probably is not his strength, his natural inclination, or comfort zone. You have to ask why is he that way. Slow down as you work through these questions:
- Why do you think he gravitates to his strengths?
- Was he shaped by his parents to parent poorly?
- Is it his personality?
- What is he afraid of? (People are afraid of failing so they won’t try certain new things.)
- Does he not see it?
- Does he not have a better template for parenting?
- Are you speaking into this?
- If so, how are you going about it?
- How are you intimidating (or hindering) him from leading well? (If you criticize his failures, he will be inhibited from trying again.)
- Who else is helping you guys speak into this?
Child-Centered v. God-Centered
Some have suggested that focusing on the children is child-centered rather than God-centered. That is possible.
- The child-centered home caters to the children.
- The God-centered home cares for the children.
You may have a child-centered home if…
- The child is allowed to disrespect either parent.
- The child is allowed to always have her way.
- The child is allowed to be pouty or argumentative toward either parent.
- The child is allowed what she wants when she wants it, and how she wants it.
- The child is allowed to do sin without consequences.
- The child is allowed to do her thing, rather than the community (familial) thing.
- The child is allowed to demand.
- The child is allowed to pick and choose what she wants to do.
- The child is allowed to talk back disrespectfully.
- The child is allowed to lead rather than be led.
The most effective way to create a child-centered home is by making your spouse second to the child. This is done several ways:
- If you disrespect (or any other unloving thing) your spouse.
- If you argue with your spouse in front of the child and do not repent to God, to your spouse, and to your child.
- If you allow your child to disrespect your spouse and you do not make the child repent to you, your spouse, and to God.
- If you do not give your spouse the pre-eminent spot in the home while making sure the child knows she is number two.
- If you tag-team with your child against your spouse.
A God-centered home is when the Father is leading by being the authority (transcendence) and the friend (immanent). Here are ten ways to be an immanent father:
- The father is near the children.
- The father is glad when the children want to be with him.
- The father is interested in the children.
- The father is practically teaching the children.
- The father is proactive in their lives.
- The father is emotionally connected to the children (sympathizing).
- The father is entering into their worlds (the gospel is intrusive).
- The father is unpacking their hearts.
- The father is discerning each child so he can instruct them.
- The father is modeling all aspects of Galatians 5:22-23 for the children.
I’ll take 1-10 above and give some practical tips:
- The father is near – Snuggle, hug, touch, eye contact, always be close to the children.
- The father is glad – Express gratitude when the child talks to him.
- The father is interested – Ask specific questions that are unique to the child.
- The father is practical – Teach the child practical skills that best fit their skill set.
- The father is proactive – Do intentional things the child did not ask or think.
- The father is emotional – Discern the child’s personality and connect with her.
- The father is entering – Learn your child’s likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses.
- The father is unpacking – Identify specific heart issues about the child like fear and walk her through it.
- The father is discerning – Figure out the way the child should go into her adulthood and fan that flame.
- The father is modeling – Apply all nine elements from Galatians 5:22-23 to assess how you’re doing as a father.
If he is not leading:
- How are you helping him?
- How do you need to change so you can help him?
- How are others helping him?
- Make this a small group discussion.
- If you are afraid of how he will affect the children, then repent of your fears. Don’t be a legalist.
- If you are angry about how he is leading the children, then repent of your anger. James said in 1:20 that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Need More Help?
- If you want to learn more from us, you may search this site for thousands of resources—articles, podcasts, videos, graphics, and more. Please spend time studying the ones that interest you. They are free.
- If you want to talk to us, we have private forums for those who support this ministry financially. Please consider supporting us here if you would like to help us keep our resources free.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).