As a mother of five children ranging in ages from 17 to 6 it is fascinating to watch my husband in action with our children. In the early years of parenting, my role as a mother was unquestioned: babies are so clearly dependent on their mother! As children grow, the balance of relevance starts to shift and the role of a father becomes more substantial and unique. With our children no longer babies, but teenagers and emerging adults, I find myself doing best as a mother when I just keep out of the way, keep the food coming and let my husband do his ‘Daddy Magic’.
What is Daddy Magic?
It is the amazing influence that my husband has around interacting with each child on the hard topics. For example, both our sons are at the stage of selecting school subjects. It is a difficult choice for them as they are still discovering where their interests and abilities lie. Neither one really has a value for hard work (yet!) despite the role modelling of their high achieving parents and classmates in a selective school. Endless nagging and pleading from their mother seems only to entrench their determined resistance.
Enter Daddy Magic. Through carefully timed conversations he has managed to connect with the interior longing of each son. He knows and understands their secret terror of failure and irrelevance. He can speak to their heart in a way that doesn’t shame or criticise. He calls forth their manliness and inspires confidence in themselves. He appeals to their innate, masculine virtue – the desire to succeed, to make a significant contribution, to be respected and admired for their integrity. When the culture is telling boys over and over to selfishly seize every opportunity for their personal gain, Daddy Magic speaks truth to the heart of a teenage son: “You’re better than that. You have what it takes to be great in the service of others. You have the making of a true man – one who can take on responsibility and deliver on it, one who lays down his life in the service and protection of the women and children in his life.”
But Daddy Magic is not only for sons. It also reveals its wonders in my husband’s relationship with our daughters. When feminine tensions between mother and daughter are strained, Daddy Magic speaks to the heart of the emerging young woman. “You are a delight to me! You are beautiful in my eyes – my cherished, irreplaceable daughter! Let no man even think about harming you. I would lay down my life to protect you and you should expect no less from the men who would seek to love you. I believe in you. I trust in you. I have confidence in you.”
Clearly it is not beyond a mother’s capability to articulate this message – but the message is not only in the words, it is also in the person of the messenger. In the same way that the CEO saying “good job” has greater impact than the same words from one’s colleague, so also is there a difference in the credibility of the message when it comes from the father. These messages delivered from one’s father carries a gravitas that has a life-long impact; boys become men of integrity and valour, girls become women of grace and courage.
So, dear fathers – we honour you for your presence in the family. Know that your lasting influence on your children will be your most valuable legacy to the world.