How to be an intentional father by Pastor Peter Nembhard

Pastor Peter Nembhard shares his view on the important role of fathering, and offers some tips on how fathers can build positive and long-lasting relationships with their children
Well, here we are in June again, that time of the year when society celebrates Fathers – those men who play a major role in the lives of their children, and who sometimes father others.

I would like to share my unique view on fatherhood, taking both a critical look at fathers and their role, as well as sharing some practical advice on how we as men can act out this role in an effective way.

Mother’s Day is always an amazing time of the year. My mother died recently, and ever since then, I often go to the cemetery to remember her. It is surprising what you see at the cemetery on Mother’s Day: there’s an assortment of people, ranging from the young to the old, even tough-looking street guys, all crying and reminiscing about their mothers.

Father’s Day at the cemetery is totally different. Last year, I decided to take a visit, and what an astounding shock! Sorry, guys and ladies, it was just a normal day at the cemetery, no flowers, and very few people.

My father passed away six months ago, and this Father’s Day I, for one, will be visiting the cemetery to remember my father – even if I’m the only person there.

Why the empty cemeteries on Father’s Day?
I have my views on why this is the case, but note, it’s not the ‘gospel according to Peter’. I believe that a lot of men do not realise what an awesome blessing it is to be a father to another life and, as a Black man, I speak especially to Black men.

To be a father is a massive privilege. I remember looking at all four of my children as babies, and thinking “WOW! He/she is mine.” I still look at them now and am still in awe.

I also believe that we are not always intentional about fathering our children. I wear many hats as a man, including that of pastor of a growing church, responsible for over 200 people, but the role I take most seriously is my role as a father to my children. I am involved in their lives every day, and even when I’m busy, I make my presence felt, by spending time with them, talking to them, and being intentional about what I do with them and for them.

Celebrate your children

When my oldest daughter was 13 years old, my wife and I took her to Barcelona. When my second daughter was 16, I travelled with her to Atlanta as her birthday treat, and when she was 18, I sent her on her first cruise. When my son was 14, I took him on a cruise.

One of the purposes of celebrating my children’s birthdays in this way was to create great memories that they will never forget, and to let them know unequivocally that I value them.
Affirm your children

As fathers, we should be our children’s greatest role model and mentor. Unfortunately, my father never affirmed me much as a young man – even up to his death. I remember asking him – a few years ago on my birthday – to tell me that he loved me and that he was proud of me… but I never got it.

“To be a father is a massive privilege. I remember looking at all four of my children as babies, and thinking “WOW! He/she is mine.”

Thankfully, God saw my need and put it on the heart of my former pastor, Bishop McFarlane (BOTR), who called me and told me he was proud of me. I also saw it as that was God also telling me how much He loves me and is proud of me. As my heavenly Father, often God treats me to a well-deserved holiday and to things that affirm His love for me.

Show affection to your children
Finally, I believe that if we as fathers are going to receive the same kind of affection that mothers receive (not that we are in competition), we must become more affectionate with our children, no matter how old they are.

I constantly hug and kiss my children, and tell them that I love them more than cooked food, and love them to the moon and back.

I can’t remember being kissed or hugged by my father, so when I used to see a son and father hugging, I used to feel a twinge of envy. I feel that intentional fatherly touch is important. My older girls still sit on my lap and kiss me; my son, who is 14, does the same.

As I close this article, I want my children and their children to remember me as mothers are remembered; therefore, I will do as much as possible to create good positive memories and to be there for them.

To summarise:

1. Remember you are privileged to be a father, so be intentional about what you do
2. Please be a role model for your children
3. Affirm them of your love, with affection, with lots of hugs and kisses and words of affirmation
4. Spend quality time with your children; it doesn’t have to be expensive
5. Let them know how special they are

Happy Fathers Day.

Pastor Peter Nembhard has been married to Caris for 26 years and they have four children. He is senior pastor of The Arc in Forest Gate. London. Visit for more details.

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