"Mental health issues are among the consequences of today widespread technology, Jennings said. In the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt joyless and useless jumped 33 percent, he recounted. At the same time, the number of suicides among those ages 13-18 jumped 31 percent." - BPNews
"[I]n the early 1900s, it was very unusual for children to live without their dads: According to our analysis of census data, fewer than 8 percent of kids under ten lived in a household not including their biological or adoptive father (a category that excludes stepdads and foster parents). Today, that number is one in four." NReview
Conventional wisdom these days seems to quietly concede that dads are not all that necessary anymore. Just watch a sitcom. One mom (or two) is sufficient for a healthy upbringing. Dads may be great, but are most certainly dispensable.
Due to the mercies of God, dads are sometimes unnecessary. Kids who grow up without a father in the home can develop into strong, successful people. Having said that, principles should not be constructed from exceptional cases. Broadly speaking, kids prosper uniquely when they are afforded the privilege of growing up under the influence of an involved, loving father who acts like a man.
For a somewhat distinct set of reasons, children equally need moms. I’m not denying overlap between the two subsets; nor am I suggesting all dads must fit a precast mold. But qualifiers aside, engaged fathers bequeath unique benefits to the nurture of healthy, well-rounded children. And it’s okay to say so now and then.
Why do kids need dads? The question could be answered from any number of angles—physiological, philosophical, sociological, theological, etc. Permit here a less formal response. Why do kids need dads? Bear hugs. Wrestling matches in the living room. Launching toddlers into the air and catching them on their way down—even if only by one limb. Responding triumphantly to the bloodied knee of a quivering-lipped munchkin looking for pity: “Way to go, kid-o, nice work!” Discussing what’s under the hood of a car and why it matters. Tackle football in the back yard. Demonstrating the fine art of mowing the lawn and cleaning out the garage. Initiating, then providing the calming presence on a scary amusement park ride. Watching a ball game and analyzing it afterwards. Playing with knives. Demonstrating a love for sweaty, dirty work. Telling a kid pointedly: “Get over it,” or “No, you can’t do that.” No monkey-business enforcement of consequences for children who break rules. Teaching the craft of using power tools, raking the lawn, changing a tire, and building a bike ramp. Pedagogy on shaving and tying a tie. Leading hunting, fishing, and camping trips, and adventurous hikes in nature. Teaching teenagers to park the car in the garage. Teaching teens to take responsibility when parking the car in the garage doesn’t go so well. Gruff warnings to the young man showing interest in your daughter. Gruffer words when warding off sleaze balls interested in the same daughter. Enlightening your daughter to the reality that what she sees as a cute outfit strikes guys differently. Warning sons about the destructive powers of pornography. Handling failure and trials with a steady spirit and steely resolve. Showing confidence and faith in God during tough times. Demonstrating the grace and strength of saying, “I was wrong, please forgive me” and “I love you.” Showing appropriate affection to the kids’ mother. Protecting and honoring that same woman before their eyes with persistent fidelity. Bequeathing to the kids the stabilizing roots of family culture, of faith in God, of hope and love.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (KJV, Ephesians 6:4)
November 24, 2014, is a day I will never forget. That is the date my oldest son was born and for all intents and purposes the day I became a father. I remember standing in the hallway of the little hospital and wearing that stupid looking paper gown. As they prepared my wife for the delivery, I paced the empty O.R. hallway. As I paced, I was praying and begging God.
I was of course concerned for my wife’s safety and the healthy birth of my son, but even more than that, a single thought consumed me, “O God, please don’t let me mess this up.” I was entering fatherhood with great fear and trepidation. Why? Well, the answer is simple. The society we live in has spent decades telling us that dads are incompetent. If you think I am wrong about this, start paying attention to the dads on your favorite TV shows. To be blunt, Dad is often either a total moron or a hate filled cynic who neglects his children. What are we supposed to do in the face of such brainwashing?
For the Christian father, the Bible offers some general principles and a few direct commands. Ephesians 6:4 is one of those few commands that we are directly given as dads. The verse is a plea for us to invest in in the spiritual well-being of our children. Below are some investments we ought to be making.