We don’t see it as much these days, but there was a time when cameras would roam the sidelines of college football games and athletes sitting on the bench would turn, wave and smile and say, “Hi, Mom!” I noticed, however, they rarely said, “Hi, Dad!” Maybe because moms are inclined to beam and say, “That’s my boy!” while dads are more likely to respond, “Suck it up, son. Get tough and play ball!”
All the attention for mothers is well-deserved, as I’ve noted many times. It’s a shame, however, that we tend to underestimate the importance of the father. We hear much about single moms sacrificing, doing whatever they can to provide for their children, but not nearly as much about dads.
There seems to be a concerted effort in some quarters to even discount the need for fathers.
Sadly, in too many scenarios, men have failed to step up and accept parental responsibilities. One search showed that in 2020, there were 11 million single-parent homes, and 8.5 million of them were headed by women.
A 2019 Pew Research Center study revealed nearly one-quarter (23%) of children under the age of 18 were living with one parent, more than three times the average of 130 countries and territories around the world. Moms bearing by themselves the burden of raising children deserve all the credit in the world, but it would make life easier for them – and their kids – if the dad were present to share in the work, and the blessings, of parenthood.
I often think about Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, which speaks of the power and synergy of people teaming up to achieve commonly shared goals: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” This can certainly be applied to parenting in many ways – spending time with the children, both quality and quantity; handling household chores; earning a livelihood for the family; providing discipline when needed, and many other aspects of parent-child relationships.
The National Center for Fathering estimates nearly 25 million children live absent from their biological fathers. The ramifications of this are many, ranging from a greatly increased likelihood of young people growing up in poverty, experiencing developmental difficulties, and heightened risk for becoming involved in criminal activities.
We hear much about young people joining gangs and getting caught up in waves of gun violence. The majority of these are young men, and I believe one reason for this is a deep-seated desire for a father figure, even if it’s a gang leader. Ephesians 6:4 admonishes, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” The absence of a father can’t help but exasperate a child and his or her instinctive desire for the love and attention, nurturing and training of both a mom and a dad.
My own father was far from perfect – as I’ve also proved to be with my own family. But becoming a father and a grandfather has been among the greatest privileges of my life. The thing is, my dad was there, he was hard-working, he was faithful to my mom, he was a man of integrity, and I knew he loved me. These were priceless gifts to me, demonstrating what a real man was like and helping to mold me into the man that one day I would become. Sadly, far too many children never experience this, and I have no doubt our society is the worse for it.
The Bible has much to say about the roles and responsibilities of fathers, not diminishing the importance of mothers, but affirming God’s design for a family to consist of both a dad and a mom. It says the father is to serve as the spiritual leader, modeling what it means and looks like to live for God.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 addresses both parents, exhorting, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Many of us share a concern for the path our nation is on today, and I think here we find keys for making changes in the right direction: To reaffirm the value and significance of the father in the home, and for fathers to stand up, reassuming their God-given duties to raise, teach and nurture their children to know right from wrong, and to live accordingly.
An old hymn we rarely hear anymore is “Faith of Our Fathers,” written by Frederick William Faber in 1849. It hearkens to the enduring faith of those who have gone before, including many who were martyred for not renouncing their trust in Jesus Christ. This Father’s Day, we need to review and recapture its repeating refrain: “Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith! We will be true to thee till death.” And God willing, fathers will lead the way.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.