Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Father's Approval

Can you remember a time when your father gave you his approval? Was it verbal or unspoken, such as a silent hug or pat on the head or squeeze of the shoulder?

“Satisfying” might be the best word to describe what it feels like to receive your father’s approval.

Children and young adults need to receive their father’s approval. It is part of that growing up process where the older, wiser one, head of the family and provider for the family speaks some words of acceptance. No matter how rambunctious or silly or aloof the youngster may appear to be, a deep need exists for the type of recognition only a father can give.

Oh, looking at a good report card, or getting a high-five from the team’s coach, or hearing a cheery word from a friend can bring a good feeling of acceptance. A mom’s nod and smile as the teen dashes out the door is expected and desired by that girl or boy. But until there is a father’s approval something is lacking in your life — this means anyone of us.

At any age, to receive or even just to remember his or her father’s words of approval brings a deep healing, or at least helps bring the beginning of such a healing.

What is it NOT?
Father’s Approval is not a “Anything goes, Kiddo!” It doesn’t mean spoiling your offspring. Too wise for that, the father wants to convey acceptance, along with solid example and words that show and tell the truths that are timeless. Each person has amazing potential. Life is unpredictable. As you respond to its challenges you can make good choices.

It doesn’t take a perfect father or a perfect son or daughter for there to be a Father’s Approval. God loves us before we even realize what such love is.

Why is it missing?
Why don’t kids get a father’s approval? Yes, they press against the boundaries, try their newly found freedoms, exaggerate, and hang out with other immature kids. Kids believe in the depth of their hearts that they do not deserve father’s approval.

Why don’t older sons and daughters get a father’s approval? By now, with jobs, homes, marriages, kids of their own they seem to be too busy. It’s a relief to be able to find their own avenues of receiving satisfaction.
What about those of us who have weathered life’s storms for over 60 years? Our parents have died, some friends have died by now. Retired, we have time to remember. We have a greater perspective for judging life’s events and people. With a desire for understanding and wisdom we may realize that we have missed out on some important times of life.

Perhaps we missed receiving our father’s approval, we missed out giving our approval to our children. We may even confront the feeling of missing out on God’s approval. What a heavy load this can be.

Is it too late to GET?
Look back through your memories. Perhaps you’ll recall some unspoken approvals from your father. Jot down details for yourself, so if some day you can’t remember as well, you will be comforted, knowing they’re written and vital memories are not lost.

Is it too late to GIVE?
See if you remember giving your own approval to your kids, maybe not in so many words, but in other significant ways. Jot down on paper these recollections for yourself. Use them as a starting point for a new writing you will want to do. No matter the age of your offspring it is not too late to give them the special blessing of Father’s Approval.

How do you begin?
Putting a father’s approval into words is a job that you assign to yourself. You begin with a draft of ideas on paper. This first version mellows and you rewrite it with more clarity, perhaps giving some examples, recognizing the other person’s different temperament, different struggles and challenges.

You will want to include in your own words and terminology such wonderful concepts of acceptance, love, realization of belonging to each other. Many parents find it’s easier to write this than to verbalize extemporaneously.

Don’t hesitate to turn to the Bible for a favorite verse that speaks of love, confession, restoration, and acceptance. Pray for God’s guidance. Giving a blessing is His idea.

What concepts do you want to convey?
You are the son (the daughter) I always wanted. I did not realize the components of temperament that you were born with. I didn’t understand how your growing up would be different from what I had experienced. I need to clarify my love for you. You are a valuable person in my sight, and that’s what God says about you, too. He loves you. I bless you in His name.

What words might you use?
Scan this list for some ideas of words you might use in composing a written piece.
Admiration, Appreciate, Approval, Concerned, Encouragement, Esteem, Favorable, Healing, Helpful, Kind, Learning, Love, Potential, Purpose, Reassuring, Receptive, Recognize, Regard, Respect, Restorative, Supportive, Sympathetic, Understanding, Validation.

The Father’s Approval you are writing should mention blessings you want the Lord to impart. Consider such words as these:
Assurance, Courage, Determination, Discernment, Discovery, Faith, Goals, Love, Perseverance, Pray, Strength, Thankful, Trust, Wisdom, Words.

How will it look on paper?
The full version may be a page or more, written out by hand or printed from the computer. It may look nice on pretty paper from the office supply store. You may be inspired to add some photos, some quotations, some Bible verses. By the time you’ve given yourself that go-ahead and rewritten this jewel of acceptance you might have other bright ideas. Put pages into a notebook, a folder, even print it in booklet form with a personalized cover. Date it and sign it.

When do you give it?
This printed Approval now awaits presentation. Just the two of you? Perhaps the family gathered for a birthday or graduation celebration? Or at that party or family reunion where you take the stage to announce the giving of the father’s approval?

Will the spotlight be on you, or on your child? Do you need affirmation from the bystanders, or will it be enough to give and receive just from that child?

Consider the child’s comfort level. Perhaps a short, informal pronouncement during some occasion, followed by a more private time together to read the whole writing you’ve put together. Don’t forget to hug.

Do you know God’s Approval?
Acknowledging how busy most of us are there seems to be a good reason for omitting a serious consideration about God. Here we deprive ourselves of a powerful blessing. All throughout Scripture are strong admonitions, great words of wisdom, along with warnings. Life is a time of learning. Life is short. It seems long and complicated and confusing, but getting older we see things differently.

God has made us each individuals, certainly we are unique, even peculiar! Civilization needs that variety of talents, interests, abilities. Families experience those differences, but sometimes we parents expect our youngsters to be clones of ourselves — liking the same things, approaching problems the same way, aiming for the same goals.

Each of us is called to a new commitment of life. Success means doing life by the Lord’s leading.

Acknowledge where you are, in all of this. Be honest about your shortcomings, needs, desires.

To receive God’s blessing is humbling, as well as empowering. You can know the joy of receiving your Heavenly Father’s Approval.

And you can experience the joy of giving a blessing to your child, at any age. Father’s Approval is a powerful affirmation.

* * *

“ . . . Be strong and of good courage;
do not be afraid, nor be dismayed,
for the LORD your God is with you
wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9, NKJV

“Watch, stand fast in the faith,
be brave,
be strong.” I Corinthians 16:13, NKJV

“And be kind to one another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32, NKJV

“I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources
he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him.
Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
Ephesians 3:16-17 NLT

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by Elaine Hardt ©2008