The Covenant is its own reward.
The Covenant of Christ is equivalent to the term Biblical Law; Christ Himself is the Living Law of God. Your obedience is not simply some burdensome task that grants you a certain religious identity. Your obedience is conforming to reality as God made it. So all of the stuff leading up to this lesson was part of Christ. It’s not simply in your best interest; it is in everyone’s best interest. All of Creation sings in celebration when one more man figures out what God intended regarding manhood.
So it is with your children. Your effort to heal and bring divine justice into your marriage brings that same healing justice to your entire household, your entire domain granted from God.
You cannot make your wife do what’s right. In the final analysis, you cannot make your children do what’s right, either. But you can justly apply more force to them than to your wife. She agreed to marriage; your children had no choice to be born in your household. During their minority, God demands that you guide them more tightly than the adults in your domain. You — and you alone — know from your heart the particulars of what force you should use with them. You have take into account your own strengths and weaknesses along with theirs, the unique character of each person involved, and the cultural background in which you operate.
You will make yourself available for their demands for attention, but never as much as they want. In my case, as a playful clown, I don’t spend as much time with them as I want, either. That’s in their best interest. Don’t ever wear out your welcome anywhere with anyone, including your children. Always leave people wanting more of you, including your children. Make plans to offer daddy-time, but by the same token, make it a treasure. In broad general terms, you don’t seek them out to have time with them. Make yourself the kind of dad they come looking for, always begging for time with you. Make your children and other humans long to be with you.
The key to manhood socially is making the most of whatever natural charisma you have. One of the ways you have charisma with children is taking them seriously, while not taking yourself too seriously. Judge as little as possible verbally; you’ll always have to judge one thing or another, but avoid it until your convictions demand it. Instead, talk to them using adult speech patterns, but words that children understand. Never, ever baby-talk, except when clowning. Talk to them normally and be ready to explain anything you understand. Be honest when you don’t know the answer.
Give them as much freedom as the situation permits. If your reflex is to restrict first, choke yourself until you relax that grip. Only restrict when they demonstrate consistent defiance on something. Most kids will fight with you about one thing or another; don’t take it personally. You have to win no matter how much it pains you, but do your best to avoid growling and howling. Avoid the terrorizing anger until those moments when it is the only thing that works. Even then, don’t lose your cool; be the master. Never threaten what you won’t actually do. A great many effective punishments take more from you than from them. The whole idea is to teach them responsible independence as early as they can handle it.
Here’s the thing most Westerns choke on: You are your daughter’s first romance. The playful stimulation of childhood establishes the physical response to men when she grows up. There is a healthy level you have to portray with her as she grows older, so that she is neither starved for male attention, nor is she bored with you. Observe her responses to various things so you can fit your fatherly care to her personality. She is unique even among siblings. The way you establish boundaries can help her keep them when she’s with other men.
At some point you will apprentice your son to yourself or some other worthy man, depending on your son’s character and personality compared to yours. Be the man he wants to emulate in broader terms of manhood. Let him see how you handle Mom; be ready to explain the secrets that our American society hides from men.
Very early, teach them the heart-led way of communing with nature. Teach them about the madness of the world around us. Unless you expose them to secular childcare early, you’ll have a few years to help them grasp our different approach to reality, and how it makes us so unlike the rest of the world. There’s no guarantee they won’t be seduced by what is termed “peer pressure,” but you can give God a chance to work in their lives by how you grant them a sense of independence so that they aren’t socially dependent, and won’t feel the need to follow the herd.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to be “fair” with your kids. They aren’t the same person; even twins typically develop differences that you can recognize early in childhood. Our culture drums into their heads equality, so you’ll have to carefully teach them that it’s a lie. There are some things siblings will get the same from you, and plenty that should be unique to each. You can’t prevent envy, but you can channel it. “I can’t treat you exactly the same because you aren’t the same.”
Your heart will know when and how much to cut them loose in steps as they mature.