2015 | Week of June 15 – #1102
“Just do what you wish your father had done for you. Be the dad you wish you had had.” That was the advice in a book I read recently about being a good dad.
That’s such a simple but powerful admonition. Most children pretty intuitively will tell you what’s important to them about their dads. They want time with their dad, time to talk, time to play, time to learn, time to share. They want his attention, his presence. They want his approval. They want to know he loves them—and that includes providing boundaries and safety. They want to know he is proud of them—not for what they do but for who they are. They want his heart turned towards them.
Kids can’t articulate the details or the statistics of social science research, but they keenly know when their father isn’t there or isn’t providing what they need. And their lives too often tragically show the reality of what happens when their dads aren’t involved in their lives.
Someone has said, and I’m paraphrasing, just about any man can father a child biologically, but it takes a real man to be a dad. In an age of sexual anarchy, when so many segments of society have rejected the boundaries established by our Creator God and are determined to whatever they want, biological fathers abound.
But unprecedented numbers of these men are not tied to the mother of their child or as a result to the child.
In Wisconsin, this year at least 38% of the babies born will be born to unwed mothers. In Milwaukee, that number jumps dramatically to 80%. Certainly a portion of these children will be in some way connected to their biological father—but that number is small, which means we have more and more children growing up without the incredible positive benefits of having a dad involved with their lives. Notably, the very best benefits occur when a child lives with his married mom and dad. Cohabiting relationships, which may put a biological father in the same house with his child, are basically as dangerous for a child as being brought up in the home of a single mother.
All the things kids naturally want from their dads yield great good in those children’s lives right now and in the future. Social science research shows, for instance, that involved and present fathers reduce the likelihood of delinquency for boys and teen pregnancy for girls, increase the likelihood of staying in school and doing well academically for boys and girls, decrease the likelihood for depression and involvement with drugs and alcohol for both boys and girls. The list goes on and on. One of the most important things a dad does is to model for his children, especially his sons, what a good man and a good father and husband looks and acts like.
Here’s the message. First, if you’re a dad listening to this commentary and you didn’t have a good dad, think about what you wanted your dad to be and do in your life—and then get started on being and doing that for your children. Break the bad father cycle; don’t perpetuate it. Next, if you’re a wife and your husband is a great dad, be sure to tell him that—often. Let your children know you think they have a wonderful dad. Pray for him. Encourage him. If you’re a son or daughter listening to this and your dad is still living, contact him this week. Let him know you love him—and if he was a good dad, tell him how much you appreciate all that he did and still does for you.
God designed fatherhood and motherhood—and His plan is best—always. At a time when we are anxiously awaiting any day now a decision from the US Supreme Court regarding what marriage and consequently legal parenting will be in this country, it’s time to acknowledge that God’s way is best. Even if the court says two men or two women are the same as one man and one woman in the rearing of children, we know the court won’t be right—and the result won’t be good. Neither mothers nor fathers are replaceable or unnecessary in the lives of their children. They are both essential. In this week of honoring fathers, it’s time, as Malachi says for the hearts of the fathers to be turned to their children, and the hearts of the children to be turned to their fathers.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”