It’s interesting to me, the comments people make. It’s curious what sparks conversation. For Father’s Day this year, I gave my husband a T-shirt that says “Best. Dad. Ever.” It was a fun, inexpensive gift intended to make him smile. It worked. (I also bought one for my dad, and we all got a good laugh at the silliness of them BOTH being the best dad.)
Sometime during the following week, Don and I were out running errands together. Costco. Trader Joe’s, Home Depot. Don was wearing his new shirt. He got comments in each store. Sometimes more than one person commented. But it was the interaction in Home Depot that was most interesting to me.
We were in the checkout lane. The employee read Don’s shirt aloud: “Best. Dad. Ever.” Then he paused and said “That’s cuz I’m not a dad yet. I’m going to be the best dad ever. I’m going to give my kids candy every day. Ice cream every day. I’ll take them to the movies once a week. To Disneyland. Anything they want”.
I could not help myself.
I responded: “Then you will NOT be the best dad ever,” and I explained:
Because, while it seems like a nice idea to give kids everything they want, it isn’t. Kids often want things that aren’t good for them, and often don’t want the things that are. Candy all the time??? Really??? How is that doing the best for the kid? Allowing their nutrition to suffer and their teeth to rot? Indulging a child’s every whim produces an ungrateful and unhappy child. In order to thrive, children need boundaries. And the “Best Dad” knows when to say no. He knows when to withhold. He knows when to give. When he does give, he gives good gifts. Things that benefit, without negative consequences.
And so it is with God. He only gives good gifts (James 1:17). Sometimes they may feel crummy. But that’s only because we can’t see the total picture (Romans 8:28). Just like a small child cannot comprehend that eating only ice cream will leave him deprived nutritionally, and will actually harm him in the long run. And this is where faith begins. Faith in an omnipotent, omniscient God who loves me so much that he sent his only son to die on a cross, taking on himself the punishment for my sins. Who could love me more? How can I not trust him?
In the same way, a child must trust his father. He may not understand the “why” of some decisions until grown, if then. A father has a responsibility to be circumspect in raising children. There is no room for selfishness. The “Best Dad” wants what is best for his child and is willing to sacrifice his own personal interests, time, money and ambitions to achieve that.
I’m thankful that Don IS willing to sacrificially love his kids. To give them truly good gifts. To make the hard decisions to withhold when it is appropriate. This does make him, and other dads like him, the BEST. DAD. EVER.
Because they are following the example of the original Father. The one who never makes mistakes. The one who loves unconditionally, no matter the expense, even to death.
P.S.: The young man asked how many children we had. We told him eleven. After the initial shocked look, he seemed to really listen to and consider what I had to say. I hope so. For his sake and the sake of his future children.
Indulged becomes entitled
Nurtured becomes grateful