Awareness:  One dictionary defines the word as “attentive and well informed.”  Have you ever considered just how attentive and/or informed you really are?  I ask because as a father we must understand that as protectors of our families we must practice awareness.

In chapter seven of Judges we have a very good example of awareness.  When God told Gideon to decrease the number of men in his army before they were to fight the Midianites He gave him specific instructions on narrowing his list to 300 soldiers.  In verse five the Lord said to Gideon “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.”  In verse six he continues with His instruction “And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water.”

The Lord chose these specific men because even in quenching their thirst they kept aware of their surroundings.  They continued to be attentive of everything that was happening around them.  They did not want to allow the enemy to gain a foothold while they were in a vulnerable position.  So, they lapped the water while holding their heads up and kept watch while doing so.  The rest of the story is one all of us remember.  Gideon and his 300 defeated an army of Midianites that numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

We fathers are called to be no less attentive than the 300 chosen by the Lord for Gideon’s army.  Our battles may not be against hordes faced by Gideon, but we face an enemy that is far more cunning and dangerous.  This one is after the very souls of our families.  If we get caught with our guard down our wives and our children can pay the price.

To illustrate my point join me in taking a couple of short quizzes.  These quizzes will not be taken up at the end of class.  Nor will you be given a letter grade for right and wrong answers.  This exercise is strictly to help each of us become more aware of our surroundings for the sake of our families.

Quiz #1:

  1. Name both U.S. Senators that represent the state in which you reside.
  2. Name the Vice President of the United States.
  3. What’s the price of a gallon of gasoline in your area?
  4. What NFL team just won the Super Bowl?
  5. Which University won the first National Championship Playoff in football?
  6. Who/what is ISIS?
  7. Who is the most popular TV host/hostess on National TV?
  8. Who did President Obama defeat in his election for a second term in office?
  9. Who was the first American astronaut to set foot on the Moon?
  10. Who is the wealthiest American on the Forbes 500 listing for 2014?

Some of the answers for the quiz above should come under the heading……”No Brainers!”  These questions come from our daily interaction with TV News, Newspapers, Internet, etc.  The next set of questions may take a little more thinking.  However, you will notice that they are much more personal in approach.  This is also written in the singular, but can be applied to those who have more than one child.

Quiz #2:

  1. Who is your child’s best friend?
  2. What is the greatest fear your child has?
  3. What is your child’s favorite food?
  4. Who is your child’s favorite teacher?
  5. What has been the greatest achievement for your child over the last six months?
  6. Who is your child’s biggest hero?
  7. How much time do you devote to speaking one on one with your child?
  8. What is your child’s favorite subject in school?
  9. What would your child say is his/her greatest memory to date?
  10. When was the last time your child saw you kiss and hug their mother, and tell her that you loved her?

Be honest with yourself as you answer these questions.  The first ten questions are meant for scoring to test your knowledge of current events.  These are for you to test your knowledge of what is going on in your child/children’s lives on a daily basis.  You’ll notice that you won’t know the answers unless you spend time with your child.  I’m not just talking about quality time, but just time!  If I were to ask a six year old the difference between the two I don’t believe they could give me a definitive answer.  All a six year knows is if he/she has been with Daddy.

Awareness, by the definition used earlier is being “attentive and well informed.”  If you are attentive towards your child most of these questions will be quite easy to answer.  If not, well then you have some work to do. 

Our children need our attention to keep them safe and secure.  We need to be their biggest hero; not because we wear a cape and can leap tall buildings in a single bound.  We are there hero because we listen when they speak.  We get to know who their friends are.  We find out their greatest fears; their favorite teacher; and the cause of his/her greatest fear.  We are their hero because they know we love their mom and aren’t afraid to demonstrate that love by being affectionate with her and telling her how much we love her. 

When a father practices awareness he does so in a way that does not embarrass his child, or make him/her feel like they are not trusted.  We can do this by having lunch with our child at school.  Checking out the playground or other places they gather with friends.  This gives us an understanding of their turf.  This comes into vogue especially when you want to see if your child is dealing with bullying.  

Always scan and never stare.  The last thing you want to do is make your child feel a lack of trust from you.  If they are doing something you do not approve of it will come out by using this method.  Also, when talking to your child remember to ask open ended questions that create a dialogue between the two of you.  You are not trying to interrogate, but to get to know your child. 

The intent of awareness is not to make your child feel like they are being strapped to a lie detector machine.  The intent is to make you aware of the world in which they live.  As a father we are to protect our families.  Being attentive and well informed will make the job much easier.  It’s just part of being the man God called us to be.  The kind of man a child loves to call, “Daddy!”

Durick Hayden

HR Director, AFA
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