It’s almost like telling a fairy tale when we speak about fathers. “Once upon a time when dads were respected and responsible … ” Where did it go? It seems like society just does not find fathers valuable anymore, nor expect them to be responsible. The APA says that 40-50 percent of marriages end in divorce (a shocking statement!), and few of these divorces end with dad having full custody. Aside from that, many are not married at all. One out of every 15 males will father a child in their teens. Only 20 percent marry the mothers of those children, and most won’t interact with the children (source: Teen Dad Pregnancy Facts-Modern Mom ). So where does that leave the kids?
Fathers need to be a part of their children’s lives. They need to show their children what a real dad looks like.
In Scripture, we see many examples of what a dad is supposed to be. Fathers such as Isaac were shown as loving and stable people who gave blessings to their children (Genesis 27). The father protected the family and was the provider. When a man had a child, he was committed to the child good or bad. We see this in the parable of the prodigal son. The father was so happy to once again see his wayward son that he threw a tremendous party and rejoiced (Luke 15:11-32 Luke 15:11-32 11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. And he divided to them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave to him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you,
19 And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring here the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said to him, Your brother is come; and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, See, these many years do I serve you, neither transgressed I at any time your commandment: and yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this your son was come, which has devoured your living with harlots, you have killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said to him, Son, you are ever with me, and all that I have is yours.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this your brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
American King James Version×). Noah too was a great example of a good father who worked hard and showed faithfulness. And then there was Abraham, who was the father to all of Israel.
Unfortunately, a lot has changed. Fathers for decades have been depicted on TV and in movies as bumbling fools. They are shown as lazy, self-centered, effeminate and just plain inept. Not only do they not have a clue, they are often shown as frightened by their children. Or the father is depicted as either a drunk, angry and uncaring, or not there at all. Others show divorced dads who do nothing but fight with their ex-spouse. These are the examples of dads our children view daily. It has become increasingly difficult to find a show with a loving, capable, and intelligent father in it. It is also regrettable that these characters end up being role models for our children.
As adults, men raised without dads don’t think they are capable and give up before they start. Male children raised without a father or with one who is emotionally absent have few examples to show them how it’s done. It is a “what’s in it for me” attitude in society today. It’s all about what makes the individual happy. But that never works when raising a family. This way of thinking also means some parents don’t think twice about doing drugs or drinking to excess while with their children. This leads to an uptick of mental and physical abuse. One might just watch the daily news to see that. The children are left feeling neglected and needy (Colossians 3:21 Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
American King James Version×).
When a man gets a woman pregnant today, they often feel no responsibility towards the child. And many just walk away when things get tough. Worse, the mother often feels there is no need for a man in the child’s life. I am by no means saying a woman’s incapable of raising a child alone, but there is a lot to be said for having the father around. Studies back up the problems that can arise when the father is absent.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 12 percent of children of married couples lived in poverty. That number quadrupled for homes without fathers. In fact, a 2012 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that in female-headed homes without a spouse present, 47.6 percent of families lived in poverty. Statistics in 2015 estimated that 20 million children live in a fatherless home. Many studies also state that children of single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to commit suicide. Married couples also have children with less external and internal behavioral problems (Fragile Families Study; Hofferth, S., Nat’l Board of Health & Welfare, AZ State University et al.).
We also need to be careful not to fall into the kind of thinking we see on the sitcoms. Making a mockery of what fatherhood is. We must respect those dads who are doing the best they can to parent in a world that does not show them any respect at all. It angers God when we disrespect our parents and scripture speaks to it (Proverbs 30:17 Proverbs 30:17The eye that mocks at his father, and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.
American King James Version×). We must not let ourselves become one of these statistics. Scripture says, “’Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:2-3 Ephesians 6:2-3 2 Honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.
American King James Version×).
How can we honor a father who is not there? Fathers need to be a part of their children’s lives. They need to show their children what a real dad looks like. Paul wrote, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 1 Timothy 5:8But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
American King James Version×). This is no small matter! Fathers too should be showing such honor to God the Father and teaching their children how to do so (Hebrews 12:9 Hebrews 12:9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?
American King James Version×; Proverbs 6:20 Proverbs 6:20My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of your mother:
American King James Version×). The family is important, and we must not take the role of the father lightly.