Jun 19, 2009

We Need Our Fathers

Chuck Missler
By Chuck Missler

Father's Day approaches, with its gaudy ties, new golf balls and little jars of orange fish bait. Yet while Father's Day doesn't make nearly the ripples that Mother’s Day does, it honors some extremely important people. A father's presence – or lack thereof – can make all the difference in the lives of his children. Fathers need to know how vital their role is, and we all need to celebrate those devoted fathers among us.

God bless our fathers. As divorces tear families apart, and as millions of America's children sleep in homes without dads, we grow to see the very significant place that fatherhood has in the lives of our children. Sons from fatherless homes are more than twice as likely to commit crimes and end up serving prison time than young men who grow up with both parents. Daughters whose fathers are missing are far more likely to have difficulty developing healthy relationships with men as they grow up, and are more likely to become pregnant as teenagers. Nearly 24 million children live away from their biological fathers, and a large number of these see their fathers only on weekends, holidays… or never.

According to findings from the National Fatherhood Initiative's (NFI) Father Facts:
"Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents."
In light of the father absence in our communities, we would like to take some time to praise the role of fathers in the lives of families, and to encourage all you dads out there. You are very important people!

There is more information today than ever before on the differences between men and women, and the biological reasons for the basic strengths that each have for creating complementary relationships and complementary parenting styles. It is highly difficult for any single parent to play both Mom and Dad - simply because we were designed to be partners and to fill each other's weaknesses with our strengths. It's easy to see how greatly children need their mothers, but fathers are also extremely important to children. Below are some of the areas in which a father is very difficult to replace.

Role Models: This applies to both boys and girls. From their father, boys gain their understanding of how to be a man. By watching their fathers, sons learn about male responsibility and the proper ways to assert themselves. They learn how men should treat women. Fathers provide an authority and sense of discipline, particularly for teen boys, that woman have an extremely hard time duplicating. Boys need a man they can respect and after whom they can model their own lives.

For daughters, fathers provide the model of the man they should seek as adults. A father's love and care helps young girls develop a sense of their own self worth and expectations of how other men should treat them. Daughters gain an ability to trust from trustworthy fathers, and learn to find value in healthy femininity from the man who truly values them for who they are and not just how they look.

Parenting Styles: Rather than being in conflict, fathers and mothers balance each other's parenting styles - helping each other raise well-rounded children.

Fathers tend to emphasize rough and tumble play more than mothers do. Fathers' play is likely to be both physically stimulating and mentally exciting. This form of play helps children learn about physical self-control and what is appropriate playful behavior, and what is dangerous. Through this type of play, Fathers help children learn to control their wild emotions and have fun in the midst of competition. Fathers tend to encourage competition, challenge, initiative, risk-taking, and independence.

In conversations, fathers tend to be more direct and specific - teaching children not to 'beat around the bush'. They stress fairness and justice while mothers tend to focus more on sympathy and care. Fathers focus more on independence while mothers tend to stress community and relationships. Fathers tend to be firmer when decisions are made. Fathers are generally more apt to consider the long-term development of their children, while mothers tend to consider immediate needs.

Together, mothers and fathers show children the values and strengths of both of the genders. The social revolution of the last fifty years has greatly degraded men. Fathers help girls to appreciate and value men, and show boys their value as men.

Children's Development: Children with involved fathers have been found to have enhanced academic achievement, problem solving ability, and quantitative and verbal skills. According to several studies, Father involvement in their sons' lives has been shown to have a huge effect on boys' mathematical and verbal skills. Father presence is reflected in their daughters' improved mathematical skills and reading ability.

An astonishing finding is that the development of empathy and compassion in children's characters is correlated with their father's involvement in their early childhood. Young people who have been raised by warm and affectionate fathers are fare more likely to have happy marriages and healthy relationships as adults.

Most importantly, fathers provide a concept of the Heavenly Father for their children. Harsh, abusive, or unpredictable fathers make it more difficult for children to understand God's love or to trust Him. On the other hand, trustworthy, loving, steady fathers model for their children the character of God.

Father's Day Ideas: There are plenty of things that fathers can do on Father's Day to make the day a fun time for both Dad and the kids. If you're looking for some ideas, here are a few activities you and your children can enjoy together.
  • Make breakfast together. Purposefully let the kids join in mixing up pancakes or putting together sausage biscuits with egg. Pick a simple meal that everybody likes and do it together.
  • Go fishing or hiking or bike riding together outsides. Focus on just enjoying each other's company and having a good time.
  • Go work on that club house or dog house or fort you've been meaning to get to. Use it as an opportunity to teach the kids basic carpentry and give them plenty of chances to help and make mistakes and learn.
  • Play a boardgame or card game. Sit down and play the kids' favorite game with them.
  • Pick out a book together and snuggle up to read it.
  • Take time to learn about a hobby your children have, one that maybe you hadn't paid much attention to before. Let the kids tell you all about this thing they love to do and why they love it.
  • Take a trip to some of your own childhood haunts - your favorite park or climbing tree or hangout from when you were a kid. Tell some funny stories.
  • Listen to music together. Let the kids share their favorite artists and songs and tell you what they like about them. Share your some of your favorite songs and groups.
  • Go out for a soda and just talk.
  • Call your own father with the kids to say Happy Father's Day to Grandpa. Put him on speaker phone for everybody to talk to.
  • Go out and throw the ball around. Then go inside and watch the game together. Or vice versa.
  • Pray together. Find out if there are any things your children are struggling with, and pray together about them.
Whatever you do, make sure you focus on just having a warm, fun time with your children and getting to know them better. Give them opportunities to know you better. Use this Father's Day as a chance to build your connections with them and strengthen one of the most important relationships in their lives and yours.

God's richest blessings on all you fathers out there! You are very much appreciated. May your Heavenly Father continually teach you how to truly represent Him to your children, to your wives, and to the world.

Happy Father's Day!

Related Links

Fathers Key to Curbing Boys' Violence - San Francisco Chronicle
The Impact of Income and Family Structure on Delinquency - Social Science Research Network
Yes, Fathers Are Essential - FatherMag.com
Statistics - National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse