Ephesians 6:4 English Standard Version (ESV)
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, (A)but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
To bring them up means to nourish with tender care. Tenderness is something we as men find counter cultural. We were raised up to believe that tenderness is for females and mommies. But the more you look at the Scripture and the lives of fathers who have raised their kids well, you would see tenderness as one of the traits they possess.
Tenderness doesn’t mean acting like a mother. Tenderness has many facets. It can be gentleness and firmness, it can be compassion, it can be empathy with action. It could also be warmness and being kind to your kids.
My wife reminds me all the time to be a gentle dad because it is my default mode to be untender. To be insensitive and unsympathetic especially to the feelings of my daughters. They need to feel the tenderness from their dads. They need to know if daddy is really concerned with them and listens to them. They need to know if the cellphone is more important than them. They need somebody who will listen first before disciplining ( I feel guilty now). They need an affectionate dad who will hug and kiss them and sing endless barney songs to them.
In Steve Farrar’s book Point Man, he tells of the story of Lindsay Crosby, 51, the youngest of Bing Crosby’s four sons from his first marriage who died of a self inflicted wound. At one point he was quoted as saying about his relationship with his dad, ” I never expected affection from my father so it didn’t bother me.” (page 211). Yeah right, it didn’t bother him.
By the way, shout out to a man who has exemplified and help me be a tender dad, Paolo Punzalan, who also blogs about fatherhood in his site: OHNODADDY