The power of being present

One of the greatest joys in my life at the moment is the experience I have arriving home from work.

My children, aged 12, 10, 8 and 5, climb and jump all over me, delighted that Dad is home. It’s so special to have been missed, and to be so loved by them.

Of course, pretty quickly they move on from these displays of affection and return to the TV or whatever other device they were playing on. But it’s always a significant reminder for me of the power of my presence in the home, which has such an impact in their lives.

It’s good for me to reflect upon the importance of being present as a father to my children, as it’s something that I know I easily take for granted.

One description I’ve heard to describe this is Incarnational fathering, where we try to be intentional about putting aside our needs, so we can enter into the world of our children. It’s about who we are as fathers, rather than what we do as fathers.

I can find myself overly drawn to the practical and pragmatic expressions of being a father. And of course these things are important. With my wife, I have to demonstrate clear leadership and decision-making for the family, to protect my children and make sure that as a family we live active lives, working, doing chores, playing sport and pursuing interests.

However, for every moment that my children need me to say and do stuff for them, there is another moment where they just desperately need me to be present to them.

I fail at this so often, because I am so caught up with my own important projects and worries.

But when I get this right, I know it means things like just sitting with my daughter as she talks about her day, being with my son as he plays Minecraft (and I try to understand it) and connecting with the underlying emotions that might be driving another son’s challenging behavior at the moment.

As fathers we should not overlook the power of presence. In many ways for me, this is what it means to be Christian. To aspire to be like Jesus, who became one of us, in order to bring new life to everyone.