It is interesting that even in our secular culture there exists a day known as Father’s Day. Even unbelievers can see the importance of fatherhood and the influence which fathers can have on their children. This is simply one of those truths which is self-evident(Ephesians 6:1). And yet there are elements in our culture that have attempted to downplay the importance of having a father or the need for a father.
Fathers Are Desperately Needed
"In a study of male prisoners by Dr. David Blankenhorn, he found that the one thing they all had in common was the absence of a father. He also found that while most of the prisoners asked for a card to send to their mothers on Mother’s Day, none of them asked for Father’s Day cards…Not only do children need their fathers…but society needs fathers as well. Neighborhoods without fathers are neighborhoods without men able and willing to confront errant youth, chase threatening gangs, and reproach delinquent fathers…The absence of fathers deprives the community of those little platoons that informally but effectively control boys on the street" (Raising Faithful Kids in a Fast-Paced World, Dr. Paul Faulkner, pp. 116,118).
Men Need Fatherhood
Not only do children need their fathers, fathers need their children. "Judith Wallerstein began her longtime studies on children of divorce thinking that children were strong enough to adjust to their parent’s divorces. But she found out that kids have much tougher adjustment problems than had first been recognized. In her search, she also discovered that children were not the only ones who suffered developmentally. Young divorced fathers, separated from their children, seem to have their development blocked. Some never recover a sense of purpose or direction: they cannot grow up into fully mature men outside the structure of the family. Dr. David Blankenhorn, author of The Good Family Man, says, ‘Children endow a man’s life with a larger meaning. They confer a special blessing on his worldly endeavors, endeavors that might otherwise seem small and unworthy. Children make it possible for a man to believe that he has lived a good and purposeful life’" (Faulkner pp. 117-118).
"To turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous" (Luke 1:17). The quotation here is from Malachi 4:6, and Malachi adds, "and the hearts of the children to their fathers". As John the Baptist begins his work, his preaching will convict the hearts of young people and adults. It will be his work to turn them to each other in the process. When young people and adults both want to do what is right, they will find that they desperately need one another (Proverbs 17:6). In other words, a home can only be what God wants it to be when sin is renounced by all parties involved. At this point someone might argue that there are fatherless children who have succeeded. But as one writer notes, "They have done so in spite of their loss, not because of it. Besides, we are not looking for the secular "norm" of fathering (how bad of job can we do and still raise good kids), we are looking to be the "best" fathers possible.
God Made Fathers
The above might sound like a very simple statement, but it is a truth that is easily forgotten. It seems that society often assumes that mankind invented marriage, parenting, mothers and fathers (Genesis 2:24). Regardless of man’s attempt to tinker with, remove, abolish or alter the family, man hasn’t been able to come up with anything that works better than dad, mom and the kids. And no one can take the place of Dad, not the mother, not the grandparents, not the school system, certainly not the government, and not even the church. Note, God didn’t command elders, deacons or the preacher to train the children born to Christians, God specifically commanded the fathers of those children (Ephesians 6:4).
Why Dad Exists
- The Family Needs Protection: "Manhood must show a moral commitment to defend the society and its core values against all odds". "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25).
- The Family Needs Food/Clothing/Shelter: Genesis 2:15/1 Timothy 5:14/Titus 2:5
- The Family Needs Moral Leadership: "Fathers have a very significant impact on their children, especially their sons. One place this influence is evident is church attendance. If both mother and father go to church, 72 percent of the children will go when they’re grown. If only the father goes, that percentage doesn’t drop too much: 55 percent of the children will go to church when they’re grown. But now notice what happens when only the mother goes. If only the mother goes to church, only 15 percent of those children will go when they’re grown. So while the mother has a greater influence on children in some respects, church attendance is one area where the father has the big clout. Just look around in your own church. You’ll see that the younger boys will come to church with their mothers up through about junior high, but somewhere in junior high and high school if Daddy’s not going to church, the boys will drop out, as will many of the girls" (Faulkner pp. 123-124). I just think that many men assume that their wives have more clout and influence when it comes to spiritual things than they do. I am convinced that even a good number of men think that the faithful spiritual example of their wives will more than make up for their failure to be a spiritual leader. But long before the above research, God knew the truth (Ephesians 6:4). "Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done" (Psalm 78:3-4). On this point one family noted, "The father must be the moral standard, the moral head of the home---not the mother, not school, not church, not grandparents". One young man said about his father, "My dad just has a way about him. He can help us keep things straight. Dad had the uncanny way of keeping things in perspective". To illustrate what he meant, he described his very last high school football game. It was the last game, the last play, and the last quarter. There was time for only one last play, and he had to throw the ball. If the pass was good, he’d be a hero; if the pass was bad, he’d be a goat. He threw the pass and the pass was intercepted. He was the goat and he came home late and hurting. His dad was waiting up for him. "Son I’m sorry the game was lost tonight, but let me ask you a question. You know Brice? (his little nephew). If we could reverse the outcome of the game by cutting off just the very tip of one of Brice’s little bitty fingers, would you be willing to do it?" The son replied, "Oh, no, Dad! I would never do that". And then the dad said, "I didn’t think you would. So I guess winning the game wouldn’t have been worth even the tip of Brice’s little finger, then, would it?" And the young man said that when his dad said that, he felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
- The Family Needs A Model Of Manhood: "Fathers are crucial in making men of their sons and women of their daughters. And contrary to the popular image, it is not the aggressive, macho man but the competent, caring, loving father who does this best"(Faulkner p. 125). By modeling manhood, fathers actually confirm their daughter’s femininity. That is, your daughters will look at you and say, "Oh, that’s what a man is like. So that’s how a man looks, acts, smells, and talks. That’s how a man treats women, that’s what a father is, that’s how a man cares for his family". In contrast, daughters who have little or poor interaction with their fathers often have a difficult time knowing how to relate to men. "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13; Titus 2:6-8). In like manner, boys need their fathers to teach them how men conduct themselves. "At some point in his life, the boy must become a man; childhood dies. Boys eventually separate from their mothers in search of their maleness. Think of it like a person swinging on a trapeze. The time comes when he must change from one trapeze to another: the boy has to let go of his attachment to Mom and look more to Dad as his role model. If he lets go of childhood and Dad isn’t there for him, what then?….There is compelling evidence that fathers remain very significant figures for men far into their adulthood. Frank Pittman concurs. He believes that many men grow up yearning for better connections with their fathers. That ache reveals itself through their inability to adapt well to society. He says these men dream of a father who will come and teach them how to be men, and just tell them that they’re doing all right." (Faulkner pp. 128-129).
What Every Family Craves From Dad
- Be around: The first thing families crave from Dad is His simple presence. As someone noted, "Kids can’t bond with a moving target". Fathers who are preoccupied with their jobs, themselves, or their problems are not available to their children. The curse of fatherhood is distance, and good fathers spent their lives trying to overcome it. One study of successful fathers noted that these fathers did not have a lot of discretionary time, the secret of their success was that they submitted what time they did have to their families. Whatever recreational time was available was spent on the family’s choice, not the dad’s. "One problem many fathers have is they think that if they get involved with their kids, their whole evening will be shot. The truth of the matter is, our children’s attention spans are so short that we’re lucky to get in a few good minutes every day. So when your daughter says, ‘Daddy would you do it now? Then jump up and do it now!…because soon she’ll be ready to do something else" (Faulkner p. 132). Someone noted, "Hurried men tend to skim life, skim wife, skim kids". Some men out there are still rationalizing that they can’t spend any more time with the kids. They’re saying, "When my boy is old enough, then I’ll…" The sad truth is that boys aren’t born being able to fish, play baseball or golf. Furthermore, not all children are boys, and not all boys can play ball, etc…Make sure to interact with your children based on where they are now in their development and according to their abilities and interests, not based on your personal expectations and preferences.
- Have the family at heart: Some fathers due to work are required to spend a lot of time out of town. But this absence doesn’t have to have a huge negative effect on the family, provided that when dad is home, he’s home. Families can tell the difference between a father whose heart was with the family and one whose was not. One mother said the she’d seen other fathers who would make an appearance at their children’s game, but they’d talk about business the entire time.
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church Of Christ/644-9017