Recently our family spent two days and nights camping with nine other families from our church. We camped at James River State Park and canoed a total of about 11 miles on the river. The weather was awesome (after a pretty hard rain during Friday night), the water level was perfect for a great ride, the temperature was comfortable, and the fish were biting. It was our best trip so far.
You learn a lot when you spend that much time with over 43 other folks. And you know me, I always pay attention to fathering. I have to share something that I absolutely loved. Sam and Sammy Wilson were in their canoe toward the back of our colorful armada fishing the deep holes, shady spots and riffles. Sam was in the back and Sammy was in front.
Over and over again in the afternoon I heard “Get’em Sammy!” “Stick with him son!” “Way to go Sammy!” “Careful now!” “Give him some slack!” “Get ‘em in the boat!” Great job son!” Sam was even happier for his son to catch fish than to catch them himself. From a distance, I smiled with each outburst and yelled congratulations to Sammy as he showed off his fish. I was also cheering for Sam.
Here’s what I loved… Something magical happens in a son’s life when his father coaches and cheers for him. I see lots of father/son interaction that consists of coaching and criticizing. In this case, even the tone of Sam’s voice carried enthusiasm and pride rather than frustration and ridicule. You could hear him cheering for his son even as he coached. Sam was in the back giving his son the best shot at success, maneuvering the canoe, putting him in position, and enjoying his son’s success. What I and others witnessed was great fathering.
Guys, you can do this. You can cause your son’s heart to swell with pride and excitement just as Sammy’s did. You may not know how to fish well, but take a hard look at something you do know well and share a common interest in with your son. Teach him what you know, let him experiment and cheer like crazy with every successful move, even small ones.
A word of caution though… it’s quite easy and unfortunately more natural for us dads to criticize our sons more than we should. We also have a tendency to push our children toward our interests rather than their own areas of interest and gifting. Remember two key ideas from scripture… observe your child and interact with them to know how God ‘wired them’ (Proverbs 22:6) and be especially careful not to ‘provoke them to anger’ with over coaching and criticism. (Ephesians 6:4).
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