God foresees with prudence all future things, good or bad. Before they happen, He knows them and sees the good or evil that will result from them.
This would seem pretty difficult to imitate at first glance; after all we can’t predict the future. On the other hand, I recently read a eulogy given by a son for his recently deceased father. The first quality this son mentions is his father’s foresight.
With young children, practicing foresight can be easy. We know what will happen if the toddler touches a hot stove, but the child does not. So we teach the child the difference between hot and cold with a low risk situation, such as the water faucet. Then we teach the child what is hot so they won’t touch hot things. Notice, we teach the child to have the foresight we have. If we simply barricade everything which may burn a child without teaching hot and cold, the child will not develop reasoning skills.
At the same time, even after you give these lessons, you don’t let your toddler have free access to anything and everything in his environment including the hot stove, guns, electrical outlets, the busy street, etc.
As your child gets older all this becomes more complicated. Instead of the hot stove, you may be dealing with music, movies, friends, clothes, bathing suits, life-choices, and potential marriage partners.
It gets more complicated because increasingly these choices have to do with the ultimate destiny of the soul and not simply physical well-being. After all, the real foreknowledge we want for ourselves and for our children is the ultimate one-what will happen to our soul when we die. While we can never presume heaven, we can know which actions bring us closer to heaven and which do not.
Principles are the same with older children, beginning at the earliest ages in teaching the child about good music, good movies, good friends, modesty, and the difference between what is good and what is evil. As with the toddler, you can’t leave them on their own to have free run of the world when they are teenagers, but they will be making choices that you don’t see.
A father must teach, observe, communicate, and guard. We have to be sufficiently involved in our children’s lives to know who their friends are and what music they listen to. We need to communicate with our children and also with our wife and their mother who sometimes has powers of observation much more keen than ourselves. This communication is not simply to know, but to engage the child continually to understand their pressures and tendencies and to continue to teach and guide concerning God’s love and mission for them.
As fathers we must have the courage to do hard things and to say no. We must love for eternity and not capitulate to avoid a fight or to put a smile on our child’s face. Our home is the domestic church, and we must protect it. We can’t be at their side all the time, but in the home we can control, always with discussion and teaching, who and what enters the house. Immodest dress, immoral music and movies, and poor friendships are things we can and must prevent from invading the home. As our children get older they begin to exercise their own free will. We can’t and shouldn’t control their lives, but the duty to counsel and to pray does not stop.
This can be very hard with older and adult children. We may fear our loving relationship will not withstand (loving) criticism of their actions. However, we must always speak and guide with the truth. Our very soul and the soul of our children are at stake. We may be tempted let things go for the sake of false peace in this life only to be eternally separated due to our silence in the next life.
In these very difficult situations before starting the discussion, pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and the right words. Perhaps offer this prayer with your child. If the child is stubborn in their decision, don’t abandon them, as St. Thomas notes that even though God foresaw the fall of man, He permitted the temptation and then did not simply abandon the human race to the just consequences of original sin. He sent His only Son to give His lifeblood for our redemption.
Likewise, as fathers, we cannot simply abandon our children when they make false choices as they sometimes will. We must continue to engage without abandoning the truth and be ready to forgive. Sometimes our only engagement will have to be fasting and prayer.