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7 timeless lessons for young dads from a seasoned father and grandfather

Becoming a father is like embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, filled with joy, challenges, and countless surprises. As a young dad, you might be looking for guidance to navigate this exhilarating yet unpredictable journey. Who better to offer that wisdom than a seasoned father and grandfather? 

This Father’s Day, we asked a dad of 33 years to share some of the lessons he’s learned over the past three decades as a Malaysian Christian father. FY Chun is the proud father of two adult daughters and a doting grandfather to two beautiful granddaughters.

1. Family above work

My formula for life is prioritised in this order: God, Family, Work. What we perceive to be unimportant often has a significant impact, especially on young children. Conversations over dinner, rocking them to sleep, reading Bible stories, swinging them around, playing hide-and-seek, drawing pictures together—there are just too many to list here. These moments all add up as touchpoints for our children, reaffirming their parents’ love and assuring them that home is a safe and secure place.

2. Steward our children well because they are gifts from God

Parenting is not always easy, but it’s incredibly fulfilling. During our children’s infant and toddler years, we endure physical strain (especially for mothers). As they grow older, much is required of us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. 

When we understand that our children are gifts from God (Psalm 127:3), we can become faithful stewards of their lives, determined to raise them in a godly way and prioritise what is truly important.

God’s Word takes centre stage in our home, with worship songs and music permeating our environment. We started our children on Scripture memory as early as three years old. As parents, we must recognise the adversary who comes to kill, steal, and destroy at every opportunity. God’s armour and prayer are available to all parents.

Remember, God requires an account of your stewardship of your children (after all, they are His). When our children see us actively serving in the church and maintaining good relationships with the pastors and congregation, they will be inspired to serve God in their lives.

3. Find the fun in every season!

The most poignant memories are the ones with the most laughter or the most tears. As fathers, we would naturally want good memories. These happen when we connect with our children in meaningful ways as they grow up.

When my girls were toddlers, I was often on my hands and knees, the ‘horsey’ for their imaginary adventures and toppling them over and over was great fun. In their primary years, we would spend evenings at the local playground, swinging on monkey bars and catching tadpoles. We enjoyed Pac-man on the small Nokia handphone!

With teenhood came movie nights and excursions, purchasing their first mobile phone and cheering for them on sports days. The teenage and adult years do come with turbulence, but building strong relationships from the start will help both of you to understand each other better and resolve conflicts well.

FY and Sharon with their two daughters, 1997.

4. Your children’s tears will remind you of God’s love 

It is important to recognise the pain or tears your children experience. By doing so, not only does your love for them grow, but you also gain a deeper understanding of how much our Father in heaven loves them. You are His channel of love to them.

Etched in my memory is my older girl, about four years old, running back crying to ‘rescue’ her little sister, thinking someone was taking her away. In reality, our younger daughter was being carried by a helpful dockhand as we were alighting from a boat. 

Other memorable moments include when they took their jabs, their first few days in school and being separated from us, or when they developed a fever or had a fall.

Reflecting on these teary moments has deepened my appreciation for how much our Heavenly Father loves me. This understanding has inspired me to become a better father myself.

5. Be involved in the major transitions

As your children grow older, they will navigate several major transitions: starting school, entering university, getting their first job, and possibly marriage and parenthood.

Being present in these transitions (don’t leave it to the teachers or bosses) is part of stewardship. Don’t be an absent father. Supporting them in prayer and practical ways will demonstrate your love for them, although they may only realise it later.

Who your children marry is the second most important decision of their lives after accepting Christ. As fathers, we can guide our children toward purposeful, Christ-centred marriages by nurturing their early relationship with God, praying for them, being available, and intentionally fostering godly friendships with their future partners.

6. Take all the photographs

A picture is worth a thousand words. Back in my day, we used film cameras, and each photograph was cherished—only 36 clicks per roll of Kodak or Fuji film. Today, the blessing of digital technology means you can capture as many photos and videos as you wish. 

Photographs are tangible and lasting memories, and when your children sift through them later in life they’ll be brought back to special moments and treasure the family more.

My tip would be to take more of them when your children are younger. As they get older, they become more camera-shy or less willing to be your models!

7. Raising godly children is only possible by the grace of God

When I first became a father, I was greatly excited. It felt like a coming of age, a new season in my life. However, through the ups and downs of 33 years as a dad, raising godly children is only possible by the grace of God.

He remains faithful, providing for all their needs. His grace is sufficient for your shortcomings as a father. Therefore, do not fear, but instead, rely on God for the wisdom to parent your children well.

Finally, if I have to find one Scripture verse to leave with young parents, I wouldn’t do justice to who our Heavenly Father is and His exhortations to you. Having said that, Joshua 1:8 is the verse I wish to share with you: 

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 

All photos provided by FY Chun.

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