When you have children, you sign a lifelong, non-verbal contract in flesh and blood. Being a father can be extremely rewarding, but don’t kid yourself, it is serious business, and it requires a serious commitment. This is part of what I have tried to keep in mind:

Do no harm. Don’t say or do anything that will damage someone else’s chance to have a happy life. You may feel inclined, even compelled to pursue a course of action, but if it means potential damage to someone else, you are wrong. It is not God’s will to hurt another, and if you think it is you are mistaken. You think your wife doesn’t care for or understand you? That’s tough; a divorce or an affair would cause damage to others. You’d like to go back to College or pursue a Master’s? Ask yourself how much damage that loss of income would do to your family. You want to take up golf or join a rock and roll band? Does that show your care for your family, or your disregard for them?

Keep your opinions to yourself. You buy plug protectors so your children won’t stick their fingers into electrical sockets. Do the same for your opinions. Expose your children to what is good, keep them away from what is harmful, and keep your own prejudices and opinions out of it. Give your children credit. They can make up their own mind about the world; they don’t need you to do it for them. Respect their intelligence and their judgment and perhaps someday they will teach you a thing or two.

Pam and I see nothing contradictory to our Christian values in having a glass of wine with our evening meal. But before we had children we made a decision to give that up until they left home as we did not want our actions to be misinterpreted by our children and prove to be a snare to them. Nor did I inflict my caustic views of America or what I see as a degenerate social structure on my children. That would have caused them damage. How could my eldest son have spent two productive years in the States and still be employed by an American company if I had poisoned his mind against America when he was young? That would have been cheap, and inexcusable.

Do no harm. Repeat that to yourself before you do or say anything. Children are malleable, so be careful. Don’t indulge yourself in your habits, choices or opinions to their harm. There’ll be plenty of time for self indulgence when they are grown. More thoughts tomorrow.