Sunday, April 12, 2009
Fathering after your nest is empty
But I will still be her father.
It is quiet now at home. Several times a day I walk past three large portraits representing our three grown children, no longer in our “nest”. Sometimes my heart catches a bit as I realize that some of my fondest memories of them as children are in the past, only to be relived through photographs and home videos. They no longer need my help with getting dressed, meal preparation, completing homework, driving them to events or being tucked in at night.
What does fathering look like after children leave home? Are a father’s providing and protecting instincts now obsolete and unneeded? Following are some tangible ways I have found fathering to continue even after the nest is empty.
Entrust them to THE Father of all. Even though my children are no longer under my direct fatherly supervision, they ARE under God’s. My children still face challenges, fears, temptations and failures. What better way to serve them than to hold them up daily to their heavenly Father for blessing and protection.
Share counsel (with permission) and release. As children reach majority age and acquire more independent decision-making skills, the dynamics of fatherly instruction changes. If I have red flags, I can ask them if they are open to my input, share it honestly, but then release them to make their own decisions.
Continue blessing and encouraging. We never outgrow the emotional need of having a dad who is simply there as our main supporter in life. Although it may not be a daily dose—as it was when living at home, my children still need the validation and support of their dad.