At the end of every month, I write what I call a “Thought Paper.” I pick out something that has been on my mind that month and get it out on paper. I’ve been doing it for years and it has been a wonderful thinking tool.
As you would imagine, this month fatherhood has been on my mind. What is expected of a father? How can I surpass the expectations?
I decided to write, “My Fatherhood Checklist.” In it, I listed six principles that I think a son should rightfully learn from his father. Mothers help teach these principles. So do school classes and church meetings. But my conclusion was that fathers should see to it that these six principle are taught and that a son understands them. Or to make it more personal for me, if my son doesn’t know these principles as he grows up, I am specifically at fault and should be held accountable.
My paper is long. Here is a summary of the six principles:
1) The Priesthood of God is a call to serve. It is to be used to bless and help others. Use it as the scriptures instruct. Accepting the Priesthood holds you to a higher standard. It is your commitment to serve when you are called as a missionary and in any other calling issued from the Church. God will bless you all your life and you have a duty to help bless others. Follow righteous Priesthood holders like the prophet and the twelve apostles.
2) Being wise with your finances will save you trouble and heartache. Work an honest job for your money. Always pay your tithing first, then your savings account, and then your bills. If you don’t have enough for your bills, change your lifestyle. A budget should be kept and money should be tracked. Schools don’t teach this, but it’s absolutely critical. Media will teach you to live on credit but debt is an incredible burden to have on your shoulders.
3) Pornography is as dangerous as a drug. Avoid it at all costs. When others may tell you it is “normal” or “healthy”, know that your father and your Heavenly Father are of an opposite opinion. Avoid it like you would a deadly disease. It teaches disrespect for women and portrays an inaccurate view of the world. It makes you idle in progression. If you do slip, find help from me or your bishop as soon as you can.
4) Respect women. Treat them with kindness. Even in the hard times, always be respectful. This applies to all women, not just the ones that attract you. And more than any others, respect your mother and your wife.
5) Patience is a prized characteristic. Do all you can to learn it. It will make you a better father, a better leader and a better person. It will save you from being both offensive and offended. It will help you control your temper. It will allow you to lead in times of emergency or uncertainty. The more you are patient, the easier it is to do.
6) Learn from history and the experience of others. Learn to love history. There have been so many people who have succeeded and failed, learn from them. Read how cities were created and destroyed. Learn about intelligent and successful women and men and absorb their characteristics. Read The Book Of Mormon and the restortation of the Gospel thru Joseph Smith to see how God deals with His people. When you rub shoulders with giants of past, you become one in the present.
There is a lot more a father should teach his children, but these are the six that I chose as absolutely critical. If from no where else, these principles must come from the father. I’d love to hear what’s on your list.