Be a father, not a friend. Your kids will have lots of friends. Some of them will be their age; some of them will be your age. Encourage them to have friends that help them, whatever age they are. Trust me; you are going to need all the help you can get to raise your children. But restrict friends that affect your children in a negative way. Do not be passive about this, as a friend would. Do not take the attitude that a friend would take and say to your kids “whatever you want to do is fine with me,” or “do whatever you think is best.” Your children need a father. Somehow, without being fully qualified, you got selected. So be one. There is nobody else that can.


Your kids may grow up thinking you were wonderful father, or a terrible one. They may talk to you and appreciate what you have done, or they may despise the ground you walk on. But what does that matter when their welfare is at stake? Are you going to put your good reputation, your ‘friendship’ above their protection? You have to do the job you were given. You have to be the father. Sometimes (often!) that means making decisions that are difficult.


I cried when I insisted that one of my children give up a close friend. The friend was into drugs and leading my teenager astray. But this was the only close friend my teenager had in a difficult time, and I knew they would not find it easy to forgive me for what I had to do. I cried for my child’s loss, and for mine as well as I knew this would cause a serious rupture between us. But nevertheless, I did it. I did it because it was the right thing to do, because it would protect them from certain harm, and because as the father I had to make that decision.


Other times your children may develop friends and interests that have no bearing on the things you are interested in. You have to let them go and become the person that God intended them to be. Being a Dad doesn’t mean you own them. They are God’s child first; you are in effect, just a steward. Being a Dad doesn’t make you the boss either.


You must be the Dad; you must make the decisions, and they have to be the right ones, regardless of whether or not they are popular. If you end up being friends with your grown children when it is all over, that is a bonus. But it cannot be the goal, and those who make it their goal do their children no lasting favours, and perhaps, lasting damage.