16. Don’t hold on too tight, but don’t let go too quickly. This is the catch-22 of parenthood. Work hard to raise your kids in such a way that they can make good choices on their own and live healthy lives dependent on God. But never, under any circumstances, let them think that they are no longer your baby girl or boy. I want my children to always feel safe when they return home.
17. Learn about your children’s favorite things. Want to really strengthen your relationships with your kids? Get to know what they love and learn to love it too. This is not in any way disingenuous; rather, it shows how important they are to you. I don’t feign interest in the things my kids like. Instead, I cultivate genuine interest in those things by spending time doing them. For example, my daughter loves to play board games. At her age, most of these games don’t pose a huge challenge to parents. But, because I love her, I spend time playing those games with her, and have done so enough that I now love to play them with her.
18. Splurge on your kids to teach them responsibility. Don’t be a tight wad! Not all fun things cost money, thank goodness. But sometimes they do, and you should occasionally splurge on your kids, even if it means putting off the purchase of something else you think you need. Doing this teaches them that they are important to you; that good behavior should be rewarded; and that God has called us to lives of generosity. Along with the occasional splurge, if you are going to eat out at restaurants, make sure you tip well. Few things damage our witness for Christ (for our families and others) more consistently than stinginess, and believe me, when you go out to eat after church and leave a ten-cent tip on a fifty dollar total, the servers are equating your tight-wadiness with your Christianity.
19. Being a daddy is more important than anything else you will ever do in life. If you think your main legacy should be anything other than raising your kids to love Jesus and experience confidence in who He created them to be, then you are wrong.
20. Pray with and over your children. If you have any hope of all these other things, then your first step should be to pray regularly with and for your children. Commit their care to God, ask Him to guide you as a parent to be Christ to them, and teach them to speak with their heavenly Father often and intimately. God will answer these prayers and will bless your family abundantly for the asking.
This post is adapted from Practicing Fatherhood: 20 lessons from a young dad by Isaac N Hopper.