There isn’t anything easy about parenting. There isn’t anything easy about parenting girls. For that reason I enjoyed reading through Andy Farmer’s little booklet A Father’s Guide to Raising Girls. I found this section particularly helpful.
We will make our share of mistakes as dads do. But another factor we have to account for is our human weakness—our limits, our foibles, our character deficiencies that affect every aspect of our lives. Let me give you an example.
My girls used to love to stage plays while they were growing up. Elaborate multi–act performances involving friends, puppets, stuffed animals, Barbies, whatever they could cast for effect. There was one performance I’ll never forget. On a lazy Sunday afternoon the girls came up to the living room where we were hanging out and announced that they were going to do a play about mom and dad. We were naïve so we said we’d love to see it and film it for them. From a dramatic standpoint the play was not one of their better efforts. It was a kind of improvisational satire with little dramatic arc. Basically it consisted of Jill’s character running around in a cleaning frenzy while my character spent the entire play snoring on the couch with a newspaper over his head. As a work of art, I found the drama unmoving and my character entirely too one– dimensional.
However, in retrospect their performance was a great lens to see how my kids viewed me. I know snoozing was not the only experience they had of me, but it was a wake–up call that has kept me alert over the years. My ability to detach while at home and to find ways to indulge historic laziness is officially documented in the video of that performance.
Their little drama became a morality play revealing to me that my weaknesses are not private things. Nor are they inconsequential. The book of Proverbs is about weakness. It assumes weakness as a starting point for everyone—a lack of understanding that speaks of immaturity and limited insight. The first ten chapters of Proverbs are essentially one long appeal for us to grow—to seek wisdom and insight. Immaturity is not a permanent condition. Instead, it is the starting point to either wisdom and insight or foolishness and blindness. A father who is not seeking to address his weaknesses by the pursuit of wisdom will become blind to them and foolish in them.
We all have weaknesses. Here’s what I’ve learned about my weaknesses: they usually affect other people far more than they bother me. At times I’ve grown accustomed to them, made provision for them, coddled them where I can, compensated for that where I must, and ignored them wherever possible. But in some ways they define what others know about me.
How do you identify weaknesses in your life? Here’s a clue: your weaknesses are what others who really know you have to endure while living with you! If you can’t describe your weaknesses and how they affect others, you don’t really know them. Talk to those who are affected by your weaknesses. Ask your kids. Ask your wife. Ask your coworkers. Ask your heavenly Father. Asking God to open our eyes to our weaknesses is a scary prayer! But I’ve found that he answers those kinds of prayers with great mercy and abundant grace for change. It is a healthy family where dad gets real and gets wise about his weaknesses.