Sunday marks the commemoration of another Father’s Day, sometimes known as “the other parent’s day.” Each May we lavish attention on Mother’s Day, and rightly so – moms basically start their work nine months before the dads, and when kids suffer their inevitable bumps, bruises and heartaches, the painful lament is usually, “I want my Mommy!”
There are a number of reasons for this, one being that despite arguments to the contrary, a mother is typically a better nurturer than a father. Again, perhaps because she had a nine-month head start. But there’s more to it than that; sadly, not for good reasons.
In too many homes we have disinterested or distracted dads, dedicated to careers or hobbies or favorite sports, but unwilling to make their children a priority.
We have absent dads, guys who are away at work so much that their kids barely recognize them when they do come home. At one time, I was among those.
Then there are the deadbeat dads, fellows who were there for conception but haven’t been seen since. They contribute little or nothing financially for the support of their offspring, and their physical absence has left an unfillable void.
In the United States we take pride in being a world leader, but in one category, that’s nothing to brag about: For decades, the percentage of children living in a single-parent home has been on the increase, and today nearly a quarter (23%) of U.S. children under age 18 live with one parent and no other adults. That, according to the Pew Research Center, is the highest rate of any nation. The world average for single-parent homes is 7%.
Bringing fatherhood into consideration, it’s even more concerning. In 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that out of approximately 11 million one-parent homes with children under 18, nearly 80 percent of them were headed by single moms. And about one-third of those families are living in poverty.
So, it’s no wonder that Father’s Day doesn’t receive the hype Mother’s Day does. But perhaps that’s more reason we should intensify the spotlight on this and any other celebration of fathers. We need to recapture the honor and privilege of being a devoted dad.
The Church should take a central role in this “resurgence,” even though statistics indicate the single-parent family arrangement statistics vary little between Christian and religiously unaffiliated homes. Yet from the time God created humankind, He formed both man and woman to jointly populate the earth with people who would be His image-bearers.
In the opening chapter of Genesis we read, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27-28).
In response, Adam and Eve begat not only ill-fated Abel and his vindictive brother, Cain, whom we’re most familiar with, but also Enoch and Seth. Enoch must have been one special son, because it says that he “walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24).
Certainly, the Bible includes many examples of flawed fathers. Many central figures in the Scriptures, including Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Samuel, David and Solomon, had undeniable shortcomings as dads. At the same time, the Scriptures make clear the standards and expectations God has for fathers as they relate to their children.
It’s time to revisit and embrace again the pivotal roles men should play as partners with their wives in raising children. As pastor Troy Walliser observed recently, “Wholesome, healthy masculinity, as defined in the Bible, is that which provides for and protects women and children.”
Recognizing the roles and responsibilities God assigns to fathers in His Word doesn’t diminish the importance of mothers. It underscores the truth of Ecclesiastes 4:9, which reminds us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.” Any way you look at it, parenting is tough, albeit also very rewarding. A father and mother working together as a team can’t help but lighten the load.
Ephesians 6:4 states very plainly, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” The New Living Translation expresses it this way: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”
Fathers are to exercise discipline to train their children, not to abuse or incite them to anger. As Proverbs 22:6 teaches, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” We’re called to lovingly guide them, helping them to follow their God-given, natural “bent” as uniquely created individuals – hopefully ones who will grow to love and serve the Lord.
Colossians 3:21 admonishes, ““Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Thinking of so many young people – especially boys – growing up in homes without fathers, could this be a significant factor in such social ills as gang warfare, gun violence and rampant drug abuse? Desperate for the love, protection and provision of a father, young men search in vain to fill that emptiness.
The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy also emphasizes the invaluable role of father: “Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen, and so that they do not slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
In similar fashion, Deuteronomy 11:18-19 exhorts fathers to, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds…. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” As spiritual leaders in the home, God’s desire is for men not only to train them up in the way they should go, but also to point them to Him.
As Father’s Day nears, kudos to those dads – and there are many of them – who take their job seriously. As for the growing void felt in father-absent homes, let’s do all we can to encourage fathers to man up, assume their responsibilities, and assist those who aren’t even sure how to get started.
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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.