It comes around once each year, and moms and kids start scrambling for gift ideas for dear old Dad. “This year for Father's Day,” they groan, “can't we get Dad something besides a shirt?” But I suspect all across this country next Sunday, many dads will open brightly wrapped packages containing—shirts. But, while they're appropriately oohing and aahing over these carefully selected, if not terribly creative, gifts, what they are truly grateful for, I'm sure, are the gift-givers, those wives and children who make their lives complete and bring joy and purpose to their days.
At this time of year, many are saying it and unfortunately too few are believing it: fathers are special people. The seventeenth century British metaphysical poet George Herbert wrote that “[o]ne father is more than a hundred schoolmasters,” while as a boy the great musician Mozart mused that “[d]irectly after God in heaven comes a Papa.” Another sage noted, “[t]o become a father is not hard, to be a father is, however.” And, finally, someone has observed that “[w]hat a father says to his children is not heard by the world, but will be heard for posterity.”
How true that last quotation is—and how important! The impact of fathers on their children and thereby on society must never be minimized. Those words said ostensibly only for the ears of a child will have ramifications for years and years to come, as that child becomes a parent and passes on the word heard or the lesson learned.
If there's anything Wisconsin needs, it's fathers passing on to their children the right words and lessons. Obviously, to do that, fathers must be present. Consider these statistics: almost 34% of all children who live in long-term poverty come from families of never-married mothers. Children in divorced situations are between one and a half and two times more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. The list goes on, and the point is obvious. When fathers go missing, our precious children, the next generation, are the ultimate victims.
Of course, even those fathers who have left their families are teaching their children by their powerful, unforgettable, life-marking example. However, fathers who are physically present sometimes need to be reminded that part of the great responsibility of fatherhood includes the transmission to those coming after them of Truth and values, of ethics and morality, and of dreams and hopes.
It's easy to moan and lament the “next generation.” It's much harder to actually do something to ensure that that generation doesn't shipwreck, that it is given the tools to help perpetuate true Christianity, that it is taught the correct history of our country, along with an appreciation for and a desire to protect freedom. Kids don't know those things intuitively. To a large extent, it's not their fault if they don't learn them—especially if they are never taught them or never have them modeled by their parents.
In the business and financial worlds, generational transfer is a fairly common term. It needs to become more well-known and beyond that more widely practiced in America's and Wisconsin's families, starting with dads. If we are going to see a shift back to God's standards in our country, we must have fathers who are purposing to transfer to their own children what it means to be a Christian, what a real Christian looks like, how God has blessed America and what Christians should do to be good citizens in our state and our nation.
Real dads will take seriously the biblical admonition to teach their children scriptural and historical truth so that the next and the next and the next generation will also know it and, more importantly, live it. Without such a plan and a purpose, Christianity in America will undoubtedly become more and more emaciated, eventually having no strength to be or to bring truth and light to a needy culture.
Wisconsin Family Council agrees that fathers deserve their day. And we hope this coming Sunday that fathers all across this state and around the country, as they gather with their wives and children to open those special gifts, will look deeply into those trusting, sparkling eyes and see to their children's souls and to the generations yet to come and decide that their best gift is one they give themselves: children who have a father who loves them enough to transmit to them biblical and cultural truth that they may in turn, so teach their own children.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
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