On Sunday our pastor used an illustration for Father’s Day that he hoped that his kids would love him in the same way that his dog does. Being that I have never been a big dog person and our kids are allergic to dog hair, I decided to try to make an analogy that would fit my situation. Cats wouldn’t work either for the same reasons. So, the best I could come up with is I hope my kids love me the same way my fish do.
You know what I am talking about right. They come up to the side of the tank where I am and flutter their tail fins back and forth. I know they can hardly tell the difference between you and one of the kids’ action figures, but I take it as thanks for taking care of me. I’m sure it is mainly the thought that “when there is movement”, the manna from heaven often appears from above.
The more I started thinking about this analogy, I began to realize that there are actually a lot of things I have to do on my end to make sure the fish come excitedly to the corner of the tank. If I don’t do the proper things for the fish, the next time I come they might greet me with that famous sideways or upside down floating wave. While I hope that my track record as being a good father to my kids is better than my ability to keep fish alive, let’s look at some of the things we do to care for the fish and compare them to our roles as a parent.
The first thing we have to do is give the fish a safe place to live. We could just put water from the faucet in their tank and they may do alright, but to be safe we have to use a water conditioner to take the chlorine out of the water. This is kind of like how we protect our kids by being sure that they are in places that we know are safe and free from harm. You know, we take the steps to put outlet covers up, put up gates, and check for sharp edges in rooms. One thing the water conditioner bottle says that I like is that it “enhances the natural, protective slime coating of the fish.” Wow. We can only hope that we can have that effect on our kids. We would love to say we have raised them and taught them so that they have our protective slime coating on them to protect them.
Filtering the Water
We have put the fish into our safe water, but now that they are there we need to make sure we keep the water clean. So we install a power filter onto the tank to take water out of the tank and clean it and put it back in. Power filters use various kinds of “medias” to clean the water, but when it comes to our kids we often have to limit the media that we allow our kids to be around. We have to be mindful of what types of programs our kids are watching on TV, what our kids are surfing on the internet, what types of music they are listening to, and what kinds of games they are playing.
Creating a Proper Environment
When it comes to your fish tank, it may be important to make sure you create the right living environment for your fish to live in. Depending on what kind of fish you have, you may need to provide some wood, rocks, or plants into your aquarium to give them protection and safety from other fish. The world is not a safe place to be a lot of times, so when it comes to our kids we need to make sure that they are in safe environments. We need to try to lead our kids away from friends that could have a destructive influence on them. We also need to make sure that we provide the example when it comes to where our kid is. We need to make sure that our kids spend a lot of quality time down at the Living Water Church and the Educa-Fin Academy. We should be the example and not spend time at the Bar and Gill or the Tail Flip Club.
Ok, we have water, we have filtration, and we have the living environment, what do we need to do next? We need to feed the fish daily. When it comes to our kids we need to do this as well. We need to make sure we are feeding our kids physically, emotionally, and spiritually daily. Like our fish, we need to feed them what they need, not necessarily what they want.
Our fish can do just fine in the dark, but we like to have a light so that we can see our fish at any time. When it comes to our kids, it is important that we make sure that we can see what our kids are doing so we can tell if they need us, if they are in trouble, or spending too much time near the power filter intake pipe.
So, that’s about all we need to make sure our fish have a good place to stay, but we can’t stop there. We have a few things that we have to do to maintain a healthy environment for them.
Check the Temperature
Occasionally, we need to take a check of our tank’s temperature and make changes accordingly. When it comes to our kids, we need to do the same. Are they overloaded with sports teams, dance, music lessons? Do they need more time with me? Do they need to have a little more grace from me? Am I being too tough or not tough enough in my discipline? We have to make sure they don’t get into hot water.
Clean the Glass
The glass on the tank will occasionally get algae growing on it and will need to be cleaned. We need to keep the pathway between our kid and us clean. If we let the glass get dirty, we are going to have a tough time communicating with our kids. We will fail in providing the best environment for our kids if we can’t keep an eye on what they are doing.
Occasionally, we are going to notice one of our fish get a case of the Ick and we will need to add some medicine. When it comes to our kids, they are going to mess up sometimes and get into some “icky” situations. We need to be there for them during these times and give them the medicine they need. This message could range from compassion, love, instruction, discipline, and patience. We also should go to God with our concerns and pray for our kids when they need it most and the rest of the time as well.
While this has been a fun look at parenting from a fish point of view, it is important that we take a look and see how we are doing. Are we doing the things necessary for our kids to thrive and grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Is there something that you need to work on to provide a better environment for your kids? Take this time to make sure you are the father that you need to be for your kids.