Day 11 The Father Covenant
You remember from our last few days there are 5 types of Covenant Relationships
- Your Mother
- Your Father
- Covenant with God
Also remember the 5 Elements of Exchange in a Covenant Relationship
We’ve seen how the Mother Covenant affects our self worth and relationships. Now let’s examine the next natural covenant relationship…The Father Covenant.
The Father Covenant – Exchanging Identity
In a healthy Covenant relationship we Exchange our own identity with our covenant partner. If we feel weak, insignificant, or ugly a healthy covenant partner will give us a new sense of strength, value and beauty or self worth. We saw the mother giving the child a sense of being cherished and delighted in; a safe place to return to in the storm. The Father gives the child a sense of value in the outside world.
Boys – I Want To Be Like Dad
Dr. James Dobson, noted Christian pediatrician and family advocate, has written numerous books on what children need from their parents. In his book, “Bringing Up Boys” Dobson notes a natural transition towards their father happens in boys as early as 3-5 years, looking to dad for their identity as men. Boys of course crave a fathers love but ultimately they want to be recognized as “big like dad”, “strong like dad”, “funny like dad”, and “smart like dad”.
Girls – I Want To Be Loved By Dad
Girls tend to look to dad for affirmation of their femininity and self worth. In his book Bringing Up Girls (2), Dobson says “if the father…is not involved, if he doesn’t affirm her, love her, tell her she’s pretty, put his arm around her, and give her attention, she often looks for it elsewhere.” He goes on to say it is important for fathers to not only treat their daughters well but also listen to them and be active physically with them just as they would their sons.
A study done at the University of Connecticut by Ronald P. Rohner, Ph.D looked at many studies done from 1949 to 2001 to discover the importance of a father in a child’s life. He found that while both mother and father can positively or negatively affect mental health and development of a child, “withdrawal of a fathers love seems to play a bigger role in kids with problems related to personality, psychological adjustment, delinquency and substance abuse.” (3)
In other books Dobson writes of children coming under their father’s authority more than their mothers; a natural transition around the age of 10 years old. At this point the Father Covenant is in full play.
If the Father has given proper exchange of identity and provided for the child, and protected the child then his authority will more likely be trusted. If there are missing elements of identity, protection, provision, and possessions then the child may not come under the Father’s authority but may go into full rebellion.
It is common for a mother to not understand or trust this transition and she can interfere not only with the child/father relationship but with the child’s development as well.
I learned of three stages of development from a friend and client who is also a licensed counselor.
- Immaturity – where we see everything as “black and white”, “good and bad”.
- Adolescence – where we learn by experience and mentoring.
- Maturity – where we learn from knowledge, which with practice becomes skill.
The Father Covenant plays a big role in the Adolescent years as he gives us real life experiences with work and relationships; teaching us to submit to authority. The Father also mentors us in life skills, often sports and hobbies or even career skills. A father will mentor his daughter in how to be treated by men…she often will only accept men who treat her as her father did.
The Father is also responsible to bring the child into spiritual responsibility moving them from irresponsible childhood to a responsible adult.
Most if not all “ancient cultures” had “coming of age” ceremonies. We seem to lack this in our modern Western culture. In the Jewish tradition the coming of age is celebrated as an event, known as Bar Mitzvah for boys age 13 and Bat Mitzvah for girls age 12. This ceremony is much more than a celebration or dance, but actually a grave pronouncement…you are now responsible for your actions. What would happen if we began such a tradition in our turbulent Western world?
“At the age of 13 (12 for girls), children become obligated to observe the (Biblical) commandments. The bar mitzvah ceremony formally, publicly marks the assumption of that obligation, along with the corresponding right to take part in leading religious services, to count in a minyan (the minimum number of people needed to perform certain parts of religious services), to form binding contracts, to testify before religious courts and to marry.”(4)
The Father’s Blessing makes personal responsibility very clear:
(at Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah) “The father traditionally recites a blessing thanking G-d for removing the burden of being responsible for the son’s sins (because now the child is old enough to be held responsible for his own actions). ” (4)
This is an important transition...the Father puts the child into the hands of God and is responsible to bring the child to covenant relationship with her Heavenly Father…to exchange Identity, Authority, Protection, Provision and Possessions from the ultimate Covenant partner…Jesus Christ.
A Personal Story
My own father did something very profound for me at the age of 13. We had a “Celeste is now a responsible adult” ceremony. My father took a big matchbox and glued toothpicks to each corner, so it looked like a little casket. On a piece of paper he wrote something about my childhood, although I don’t recall what it was.
He then called the family together and explained that now; at 13 I was becoming a responsible adult. My 3 siblings were the “pall bearers” for my childhood casket and the family walked out to the back yard where we dug a hole and buried my childhood. I believe there was prayer attached to that ceremony and then I remember the blessings.
- I got to stay up later than my siblings…9 pm!
- I was going to go shopping with my dad and pick out “store bought” clothes (my mother had always sewn all my clothes. This would be the last clothing my parents would provide. I could make my own clothes or work and save money to buy clothes for myself.
- I had my own bedroom and could decorate it to my own liking.
There were other blessings that set me apart from my younger siblings as well as more responsibilities. I’m 57 at this writing and I still recall that ceremony. Thanks Dad!
I recall fully coming into the sense that now I was an adult and responsible…of course I still had some very rebellious times but I always in my heart stayed true to my relationship with God because my mother gave me a love for Jesus and my father made sure I had a secure relationship with Christ through mentoring and instruction and experience.
My Father gave me another treasure when I was 44…a written Blessing. You can read that blessing here…My Father’s Blessing. As I re-read it at the age of 60, I see how much of this blessing is at work in my life; even much more than at the age of 44. Thanks again Dad…I love you!
What does all this have to do with Honor and Covenant? Remember…Covenant is the Mindset of Honor and Honor is the Mindset of Covenant.
Tomorrow we will look at what to do if your Father Covenant was broken or if you, as a father broke Covenant with your children.
(1) Bringing Up Boys, James Dobson, Tyndale Momentum Publishers, 2002-2005
(2) Bringing Up Girls, James Dobson, Tyndale House, 2012
About the Author: Celeste Davis, is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ with a heart to walk fully in Covenant with Him. As Founder of The Wellness Workshop, Celeste’s heart is to teach women and impact their families to “Be Nourished” as opposed to dieting or trying different life strategies. We nourish our bodies with God-Made Food, our Souls with God-Made Relationships and our Spirits with the Word of God and Prayer. More Info about Celeste