The role of the father in a child’s life cannot be understated. Far too often in our society today, men are absent in the family setting. A lot of times this can be linked to and blamed on lower socio-economic classes in our country. There is truth to this, but unfortunately, there are multiple ways for a father figure to be absent. Divorce, death, apathy, bondage, prison, etc.
Children from every economic, racial and religious class in this country suffer from being fatherless. And men everywhere are leaving this burden to mother’s. How incredibly unfair and selfish men, as a whole, are being in today’s age. The track record for fathers and men in this country is embarrassing. Mother’s have an equally specific and vital role in raising children. It is not their job and responsibility to pick up the men’s slack. Mother’s are called to be mothers, and fathers are called to be fathers. Overall, men nationwide are dropping the ball. (I so value all the single moms and grandmas and aunts who have taken responsibility for young lives and done their best to provide a better life for young people.)
What type of representation are we giving God if we are allowing this much “fatherlessness” to exist in our world today? If God was not family oriented, He would not have called himself the Father. Jesus would not have cried out “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15), which is an intimate expression and name for a father, much like daddy. Our job as men in the church is not to condemn the men who have failed and let them know they have fallen hard as a father. Our job is to find those fatherless, orphaned children and be a father to them. To represent the Father to them. Many children base their view of God off of their view of their earthly father. For too many, that is a terrible and unreliable representation.
I firmly believe men run and are absent because of a couple things: fear and cowardice. Fear of not providing or being adequate cripples men and cowardice is rooted in selfishness. Running is the easy thing to do. And it works, for the ones running. But this leaves a mess in children in their wake. Many times, fearful and cowardly men can successfully run from issues, responsibility and commitment. We are witnessing it in our society today. My life has been a life of an absent father. However, mine was the result of the death of my father at a young age. I felt the same pains as a child of divorce and abandonment, but in a different manner. There is so much confusion for a young child without a male role model. I was fortunate enough to have a strong mother in my life pick up the slack. But, there are some things a mother just cannot do. There is nothing that compares to an active and involved father.
I have found a few things that father’s are supposed to create in children.
- Identity: My identity is in Christ because His identity is in the Father and I am a chosen child of God because of my heritage and faith in Him. Earthly fathers are supposed to create the same. They need to let their children know that they are choosing their children. From that, a child’s identity, purpose and foundation is created.
- Safety: Fathers are not only to provide physical safety and protection, but providing a safe environment for a child to be who they are and to grow and learn. Fear based parenting is duplicating the child. Love and safety based parenting is empowering the child.
- An example: Fathers are looked to as leaders, and as a leader, they need to set an example of what it means to be a leader. This includes commitment, work ethic, loyalty and love. Just like Jesus is our example of how to be a Christian, fathers are supposed to be an example of a Christ-follower and leader.
- Encouragement: There are Scriptures that urge fathers not to be harsh and not to exasperate their children. The opposite of this would be to encourage. Encouragement is to build up, not tear down. Encouragement is vital to a child knowing and operating out of their identity. Not demeaning in failures, but building up to learn from them.
- Discipline: Fathers are to show love through discipline. Scripture shows us to love children and to discipline them. If discipline is done outside of love, then it is not discipline but punishment. Discipline may be unpleasant (Hebrews 12), but the end result is, and always has to be, positive.
This fatherless generation needs to be reversed. We have already witnessed repercussions of a fatherless generation making adult decisions. Divorces are at an all time high and the amount of people being raised by themselves or women alone is continuing to rise. Promiscuity, unplanned pregnancies, welfare (in many cases), substance abuse and the like are rising as an acceptable lifestyle. Children everywhere are searching for love and acceptance. When it is not found in a strong, fatherly figure, they look elsewhere. When children look to the world for acceptance is when we see paths that do not lead to righteousness and holiness that create harm, and not good things.
This year is yet another wake up call/call to action for men everywhere. Be a man, be a leader and be those to a child. Be these things to your own children and be these things to children who are without a father. It is no one else’s responsibility to raise up a child except your own. Regardless of “whose” they are. If you are a successful and strong man as an adult, there had to have been a father figure who took an interest in your life. Duplicate that and be that same father to another generation that desperately needs quality, real and unconditional love. It is your responsibility and it is up to you to choose to do the difficult things.