Back in the day, during one of my occasional detours into country music, I became a fan of the old T.R. Dallas tune “Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” And, with slight apologies to Mr. Dallas, I’d like to use part of his title to speak to the fathers in my reading audience.
Father’s Day is a great day for me for two reasons. First, my father was an amazing man. He was honorable, steadfast, loving, and will always be my first and greatest hero.
Second, I’ve been blessed with three wonderful children, all of whom have taken on life and are winning. They have married well and love their spouses, their children, Jesus, the church, and most amazingly, their parents. I am truly blessed.
I’m not saying my personal experience as a parent entitles me to dispense advice to others. But I am saying my experience as an employer who has interviewed hundreds of young people attempting to enter either the business or nonprofit worlds does. So, dads, here goes.
Fathers, don’t let your babies grow up to be:
1) Selfish: Few things will hamper your kids more than a persistent belief they occupy the center of the universe and expect others to agree.
You may think acquiescing to your children’s every whim and want will keep them thinking you’re cool, but all you’re doing is building brats who will give their spouses, bosses and co-workers fits. And it won’t help to rescue an American culture already being swept away by the current of entitlement.
2) Foolish: I know it is popular to believe the best education is the one open to every new idea and is always seeking new perspectives, new possibilities, and new ways to live. But when it comes to the basic values of life, what’s new is never true.
Teaching your kids the idea there is no certainty, no absolute truth, is certainly and absolutely false. Teach them honesty, integrity, compassion, courage, moral strength, and a host of other bedrock values that have proven to be constants in every society since someone began capturing history with words.
3) Lazy: Our success as a society has bred laziness in our children. We’ve given them so much, but too often we haven’t given them a good work ethic. Dads, make your kids work, and teach them the joy of a job well done.
Teach them that doing the right things, and doing things right, are not optional, but worthy of their sweat and toil. Teach them there is honor in finishing the task, no matter the obstacles.
4) Aimless: I am often in conversation with young 20-something boys who are a long way from manhood simply because they have no plan – and worse, they don’t care. Yes, they all have dreams and fantastic ideas of how they’ll conquer the world. The problem is: They can’t even keep a job.
They are killing us by being emotionally toxic in two ways. First, they have an inflated sense of their own greatness, and believe someday they’ll be the next billionaire without really doing any work.
Second, they sweet-talk our daughters into a romantic relationship without having any idea how they will provide for them. Unfortunately, some of our daughters fall for the charm and end up married to perennial students, or that guy who is always just one big deal away from the good life.
For goodness sake, and for the sake of your grandkids … dads, instill in your sons some righteous ambition that comes laced with the reality that hard work and planning are essential to success in life.
5) Amoral: When you put an “a” in front of something, it negates it. Amoral simply means “without moral standards.” What we are seeing in America is not shifting morals, or a new morality, but the abandonment of the very idea of moral behavior.
Dads, please stand up for what is right. Teach your kids sex outside of marriage is both wrong and harmful, and hold them – and yourself! – to it. Teach your kids laws are for our protection, authority is to be respected, purity is a gift you give yourself, and education is more than a grade.
Teach them rights always bring commensurate responsibilities, violence is never the right answer, and standing alone is honorable if you’re standing for what is right.
Dads, you and I have a great opportunity to affect many lives, but only if we teach our kids to be the best possible example of who God created them to be.
Dads, don’t let your babies grow up to be selfish, foolish, lazy, aimless, amoral adults who will further drag down our country. Rather, teach them to be selfless, wise, hard-working, strategic, and morally responsible people who will make us all better.
And, dads, be sure you teach them by example.