I’m sure that many of you will know what it means to be “Dad’s Taxi.” As my children have grown, this part of my identity has developed rapidly. I’ve been driving my children around for years, of course, but it would appear to be true that the amount of driving does increase in proportion to the age of the child. In one sense, it’s been fairly easy for me to accommodate my daughters’ increasing transport requirement because I work flexible hours. However, my ability to be flexible presents its own unique problem – I have a serious gap in my arsenal of excuses!
Consider the parent who works nine-to-five, commutes a further hour at the beginning and end of every day and is afforded only four weeks annual leave. The question, “It’s half-term; can you take me to the swimming pool / shopping centre on Wednesday lunchtime?” is fairly easily answered; “No – I’m at work!” Whatever the request, such a parent has a fairly robust argument to employ if they are at all unsure about the wisdom of letting their child attend the function in question.
I don’t have that luxury. So if I don’t want my children to go, for whatever reason, I can’t hide behind the convenient (albeit partially true) “I’m at work” excuse. I have to give the proper reason. But actually, this is no bad thing. After all, if I want them to forge relationships which are based on honesty, faithfulness and mutual respect, then I have to model that in my relationship with them. So I have to be really clear in my own mind about what is good for my children. I must make right judgments about allowing them to grow up at an appropriate speed and, above all, I must surely communicate my thinking with them in a way which doesn’t exasperate them (Eph 6:4) but which demonstrates my love.
So “Dad’s Taxi” is part of my identity, but it is inextricably related to my being “Dad.” Indeed, if I were just “Taxi,” there would be something desperately wrong. It is in my daughters’ best interests for me to be Dad first and Taxi second. And that means I have to work out what it means to be a good dad. So where do I look for guidance on this?
Christmas is coming when we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. He was brought up by Joseph (“a righteous man” – Matthew 1:19) as his own son, but the New Testament makes clear that Jesus was (and is) the Son of God. He taught his disciples to call God “Our Father,” and the Apostle Paul wrote that, as we entrust our lives to Jesus, so we receive “the Spirit of sonship … by him we cry ‘Abba (Daddy), Father.’” (Romans 8:15)
I dare to suggest that, since God has revealed himself to be “Father,” in God’s world, surely the best way we can care for our children is to model that care on the Fatherhood of God. And the best way of understanding the Fatherhood of God fully is surely from the perspective of a beloved child. The joyful good news of Christmas is that we can experience this – “To those who received [Jesus] … he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12). So have you received him? Or are you just Taxi?