Honoring the Father by Honoring Their Father: Leading Your Kids in Appreciating Dad

For many years, when my children were little, I had a tradition of playing a certain song as we kicked off our Father’s Day celebrations for my husband. The song was “Family Man” by Andrew Peterson, and in that song, Andrew describes trading in his Mustang for a minivan, settling down in a neighborhood, and saving his vacation time for Disneyland… things he never thought he would be doing. Thankfully, the point of this song was not what Andrew was losing by becoming a father but rather what he was gaining. “But everything I had to lose,” he sings tenderly, “came back a thousand times in you. And you fill me up with love, fill me up with love. And you help me stand, cause I am a family man.”

Whether or not this sounds like your own husband’s journey into fatherhood is beside the point. All dads (and moms) must make sacrifices of all sizes for their families, and we must recognize those. Particularly when they are young, our children need us moms to lead them in noticing and thanking their father for all that he does for the family. And while Father’s Day is a wonderful time to praise and celebrate Dad, let’s make sure this isn’t the only time we do so. Here’s what I mean.

Say the words.

We need to speak words of affirmation to our husbands in front of our children, and he needs to hear words of respect and gratitude from all of us. A practice that can become a meaningful Father’s Day tradition is having each member of the family say something they love or admire about Dad. Mom can go first and can also help the little kids form their thoughts by asking questions or offering reminders. Mom can also make it all feel a little less awkward by helping it flow as more of a conversation than a group of individual speeches. (Unless your family really enjoys giving speeches. In which case, carry on.)

But beyond Father’s Day, our kids need to hear us speak positively about our husbands on a regular basis. We can thank him for working hard at his job day after day. Brag on him for all that he does to keep the house, yard, vehicles, or anything else in good shape. Even if something is his “regular chore,” it is good for our kids to hear us thank him for taking out the trash, loading the dishwasher, cutting the grass… again. When our children hear us taking note of these things, we are training them to be aware of what it takes to manage home and family life. And hopefully, this discipline of gratitude will carry over into their own marriages one day.

Give good gifts–including time.

When our kids are young, it is special for them to give Dad gifts that they made with their own hands. Drawings, paintings, picture frames, tiny pottery pieces made out of Play-Doh, things created with pipe cleaners, anything with little handprints on it… These are musts in the early Father’s Day gift collections, and they truly are treasures. As the kids get older, though, it’s good to help them understand that gift-giving is about knowing a person well enough to know what he would enjoy receiving, not just what you would like to give him. Moms, we can help our kids by asking questions and having conversations about their gift choices. It’s good to be honest with them if they ask, “Do you think Dad will like this?” We are helping them continue to get to know their father.

Whether hand-made or store-bought, the gifts we give should be personal and reflect our thought processes for the gift recipient. And let’s not neglect the gift of time, which is a precious commodity. Spending undistracted quality time together, doing something Dad particularly enjoys, is always a special gift. Let’s develop in our kids the art of making memories together as a family.

Demonstrate love.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the gift of a good marriage. A good marriage demonstrates sacrificial love and a strong commitment to each other as husband and wife, which gives our children a solid foundation and a sense of security. Father’s Day is just one more opportunity for us moms to show our husbands how much we love them and for our kids to be further encouraged by this relationship.

On Father’s Day and all the other days, let’s be sure we are modeling a healthy, loving marriage for our children through our words and actions. Do they see us show affection toward each other–hugging or holding hands or cuddling on the couch? Do they hear us speak kind and encouraging words to each other? Do they observe that we handle conflict with each other in healthy ways? Do they hear us apologize to each other when we need to? And offer forgiveness? Do they notice the various ways that we communicate with each other? Do they believe that we each want the best for the other?

Loving each other well is a gift to our children.

On this Father’s Day, celebrate the gifts God has given your family through the one your kids call “Dad.” He has a vitally important role to play, as I Thessalonians 2:11-12 describes a father dealing with his children: “encouraging, comforting and urging [them] to live lives worthy of God, who calls [them] into His kingdom and glory” (NIV). I pray that this is true for each of our families.

One last note. In our words, our actions, our demonstrating love–all of it!–we must be genuine and sincere. False praise is a lie, as is putting on a facade when we’re in front of our kids. And if building our husbands up is something that only happens on Father’s Day, our kids will see right through that. We shouldn’t say and do things we don’t believe, but we also shouldn’t neglect saying and doing things that we do believe.

Share this post:

Sign up for Parenting updates!

Get weekly updates from Family Christian on all things Parenting!

Additional Parenting Articles