27: The Hearts of the Fathers

Malachi 4:6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." NIV

To some fathers it may seem strange that a father’s heart would have to be turned to his children. Some fathers seem to naturally enjoy a healthy relationship with their kids throughout the years.

However, it is much more difficult for other fathers. They may have once dreamed of playing catch with their kid some day, or of reading The Hobbit together on the couch, but it never quite worked out like that. They brought babies home from the hospital that were interested in nursing, not football. In fact, the whole first year of life seemed to be mommy’s time of bonding. Certainly things would get better with age…wouldn’t they?

As their babies grew, things did not get any more natural. When their babies cried, they wanted their mommies. When they got hurt they wanted their mommies. When they needed comfort, they wanted their mommies. In fact, they always wanted their mommies.

Some of these dads gave up. They felt out of place, unneeded, and maybe even a little rejected. They felt that since mommy seemed so gifted at parenting, they should just step back and get out of the way. They gave themselves to their careers, their hobbies, and even their churches, but they never learned how to connect with their kids. The time for reading to their kids came and went, and passing the football together never quite interested them or their children.

If you’re one of those dads, something needs to change. Your heart needs to be turned back to your kid, and your kid’s heart needs to be turned back to you. It may seem awkward for you, but you’ve got to connect with your kid no matter what it takes.

Let me give you the secret for connecting with your preteen child. It’s wrestling. You don’t need to know how. You’re bigger. You’ll figure it out. Get down on the floor, and in a taunting tone, say something like, “Come ‘ear boy. Let me show you the double leg grab pull down flip around.” If he squeals with laughter, take him down. If he runs, hunt him down.

I don’t mean to imply that wrestling is all that there is to connecting with younger kids. That would be absurd. There is also tickling. Tickle a lot. Tickle their feet, their arms, their legs, their necks. Some people think that tickling too much is cruel, and those people should be thankful that I was not their father, because I would have tickled such silly notions right out of them.

Of course these two keys to parenting can also be combined. Unlike collegiate wrestling, tickling is the ultimate goal of the match. You don’t take them down so that you can count to three; you take them down so that you can tickle them.

I hope you know I’m not kidding. It obviously doesn’t have to be wrestling and tickling but you’ve got to connect with your kid. Get down on the ground and spend an hour with your child. Get at his level and wrestle or play Legos. Build a model, have a pillow fight, or play Hot Wheels. Try to be a kid for a little while.

You don’t have to be Super Dad. You don’t have to be too creative. They just want you. They want your time and your attention. Give them your heart, and they’ll give theirs in return.

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