Being a father is a gift, a serious responsibility, and a rewarding experience. In this article, Bishop Manny Carlos talks about the joys, challenges, and life lessons that go along with fatherhood and parenting.
A Joy-Filled Responsibility
When I learned about my wife’s pregnancy with our eldest child, I felt a quiet sense of joy and gratefulness to God. I felt a profound sense of gratitude that God made us parents. Looking back, we were happy and content as husband and wife. But when each of our children came into our family, we could no longer imagine what it’s like without them. It’s a miracle that they came into our lives.
Children are gifts from God, and we have a responsibility to raise them up according to God’s ways. Sometimes, people get traumatized because of their experiences growing up, but being a parent is not something to be afraid of. It’s not going to be easy, but we don’t have to figure things out ourselves. Being part of a church community helps us learn from one another. There are so many people we can talk to who have children, and there are pastors and mentors who can help us along the way.
A Challenging Journey
Children are fragile. They’re dependent on us for so many things. In raising our kids, there are different stages that we have to navigate as parents.
The first stage (ages 0–6) involves bringing security to them by establishing authority in their lives. We need to set up boundaries to protect them. According to Ted Tripp in his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, there are two things that are at work when we raise our children: the shaping influences and the Godward orientation. The first one is what we do as parents through how we nurture and discipline them. The second one, on the other hand, is something we can’t do. It’s only God who can work in the hearts of our children.
As parents, we need to instill discipline not to hurt them but to make them realize that they can’t go beyond their boundaries. It brings security when they know that there’s a safe place and an unsafe place for them. Our goal as parents is to gradually give them freedom—to make them more independent of us and more dependent on God.
The second stage (ages 6–12) is called the learning phase. In this stage, the brain development of children is at its peak: their learning is accelerated, they’re very curious, and they ask a lot of questions. Every child has an innate desire to learn at this stage.
When my wife, Minnie, and I became parents, we wanted to be somewhat involved in the education of our children. We didn’t want to just put our children in school; we wanted to be their teachers. We wanted to make sure that they get the education they need, learn godly values, and develop a love for learning. The different stages in the lives of our children require us to emphasize certain things. If we fail to establish discipline and nurture their learning early on, it will be hard to catch up and make up for lost ground. We have to maximize our time with them.
By the time our children reach their teenage years, everything becomes different. In this stage, they don’t always want to be with us. They want to be more independent, assert themselves, and be with friends. We can’t simply tell them yes or no. We have to reason with them. And at this phase, I think what is more concerning is the influence of social media. It has crept up quickly on us, and though it has its benefits, it’s challenging to set the proper boundaries. A lot of young people now are addicted to games and social apps.
Later on, when our children become young adults and graduate, the nature of our relationship with them will also change. We have to start giving them responsibilities. Every stage of their growth entails new opportunities—for them to mature and develop—and new challenges that will affect our relationship with them and their relationship with God.
A Humbling Experience
When I became a parent, I learned that every child is unique, and I should be sensitive to that uniqueness. Children have different giftings, passions, and discipline issues. When they get older, it’s important that we interact and connect with them individually. We have to parent them, be a father to them, and be sensitive to their needs.
The physical and emotional presence of a father is also crucial in raising a family. My wife is a stay-at-home mom, and I am grateful for her sacrifice, but my presence at home as a father is also vital. Whenever I come home from work, I have to be emotionally present and engage my children in conversation.
As parents, giving words of encouragement and affirmation to our children is important. As it says in Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Now that a lot of young people are battling with depression, it’s important that we nurture our relationship with our children and help them discover their purpose in God. Part of parenting is helping them discern what God wants them to do with their lives.
Like what Pastor Steve Murrell always says, “Parenting never ends.” There is a part of us that will always worry about their future—no matter how old they are. We will always want to help them and make sure their paths are righteous. It is fulfilling and humbling at the same time because of the lessons that we learn along the way as parents. Though we may fail at times, it is important that we always look to God, our heavenly Father, and allow His grace to step in and fill the gap.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Bishop Manny Carlos is the chairman of Victory. He serves on the Bishops Council of Every Nation Philippines and preaches at Victory Katipunan. He has been married to Mini for 26 years, and they have four children: Jeremy (24), Daniel (22), Hannah (19), and Samuel (18).
Beyond the Series is a set of interviews on topics related to our sermon series. In our previous article, we also interviewed Bishop Manny’s wife, Minnie Carlos, about motherhood and parenting. Click here to read her interview.