What virtues are most important for fatherhood? How do we know what is the best approach when raising and disciplining our children? Should we lean towards justice or mercy? Patience or swift action? Every child and every parent is different, so how do we know which direction to go?
The other night Rachel and I watched an interesting movie, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Here is the brief overview as listed on IMDB.com:
“A fisheries expert is approached by a consultant to help realize a sheik’s vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible.”
There is a key scene in this movie that can greatly aid to this developing mystery of how to properly father a child. When the main character, Fred, meets the Sheikh for the first time they go salmon fishing at the Sheikh’s estate in Scotland. Being from the desert, Fred asks the Sheikh how he started salmon fishing and why he enjoys it so much. The Sheikh replies, “Fishermen only care about 3 virtues. Patience. Tolerance. And humility.”
It hit me instanty while watching that scene—what if I could focus my duties as a father on the 3 virtues of fishermen? Patience. Tolerance. Humility.
Patience--bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
Tolerance–a fair and objective attitude toward those whose opinions or practices differ from one’s own.
What if I, as a dad, could bear more annoyance without losing my temper or getting irritated? Every child has their time when their annoyance or irritation level rises to new heights. I can sometimes be what some would call a “high-strung” individual. Each of my children are very different, and the one that is most like me in personality (and gender ) can push my buttons in mysterious ways. Life could be so much better for all of us if I could continually choose to bear more without becoming irritated.
You parents out there know what it’s like. You tell your son or daughter not to do something or how to do something, just to see them forget 10 minutes later. What if I could maintain a fair and objective attitude toward them? Amidst the growing pains and forgetfulness of a young child, a fishermen’s dose of tolerance would make fatherhood immensely more effective.
How can you be humble or have humility toward a child? To someone you’re in authority over? Let me ask this question, what if we continually and intentionally put our importance below our children’s? Rachel and I were just talking the other night of how we are the product of the helicopter parenting generation. (I’ll discuss helicopter parenting more in a later post.) Many of our generation are extremely self-indulged and self-focused. I am looking in the mirror on this one. It is very hard for me to put the needs of others ahead of my own interests. This shortcoming is directly why I need to intentionally put my importance below my children’s. In short, my children need to be more important than myself. (This must be done in a delicate manner so as not to create another self indulged generation.)
Patience. Tolerance. Humility. The way of the fisherman may help me to better navigate the rivers of Intentional Fatherhood.