What father red fox teaches us about parenting
Perhaps the best father you’ll find in the animal world is the red fox. While the mother protects the young pups in the den, the red fox dad travels long distances to find and provide food for the family.
As those young fox pups grow and emerge from their den to explore, it is the father that plays with them and teaches them the dangers of the outside world.
But when the young foxes get to a certain age, the father does something that may seem cruel. He stops delivering freshly killed rabbits or other tasty meals to the fox family. The young ones learn quickly that they need to make their own way in the world, and there are no free handouts.
That has to be a tough moment for father fox — and it is a rough moment for us human parents, too.
Our children make mistakes. We all do. And while we’d love to slap a Bandaid over the problem, blow them a kiss and send them off on their way, at some point, we need to take a step back.
We see those red flags brewing and fight every instinct to solve their problems — or deliver a tasty squirrel or two — knowing that sometimes the best way to learn is by touching the hot burner and realizing there are consequences for our actions. Being independent means taking responsibility for our own decisions — the good and the bad.
The Bible teaches us that we need to teach our children His commandments (which includes respecting the parents) and to be good examples for them in everything we do. It also emphasizes that discipline and instruction are integral parts of parenting. As Proverbs 13:24 tells us: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
This isn’t to say that we should beat our children. The word “discipline” is a very complex concept. It may mean a timeout, restricting television time or going to bed without a snack. There are all sorts of creative ways to effectively discipline and teach children. That doesn’t make it any easier, though. Just ask father red fox when the pups are crawling all over him begging for a fresh meal of rabbit or squirrel.