There is often great joy and immense satisfaction in being a father, but it is not always easy. A myriad of activities and pressures compete for a father’s time and sadly they occasionally win out over parental commitments. Ken Canfield, president of the National Center for Fathering, illustrates this reality with the following story.
Don, who spent much time on the road for his career, called home from his car one evening. His nine-year-old daughter Tasha answered and after speaking with her just briefly, he said, “Honey, could you get your mom, on the phone, please?” As Tasha was passing the phone to her mother, Don heard her blurt out, “Hey mom, the invisible man is on the phone!” Don, rather than being annoyed with his daughter, was disappointed with himself, and the event resulted in his deciding that being a dad was more important than achieving success at his job.
A lot of families simply don’t have a live-in father anymore. And while I adamantly disagree, some are suggesting it really doesn’t make very much difference. Statistical reports on fatherhood have been grim for some time. One report, from several years ago, stated that in a survey of 1,600 adult men, more than 50 per cent said that their fathers were emotionally absent from them while they were growing up. Another survey indicated that only 34 per cent of adult males considered their fathers to be positive role models. Psychologist James Dobson reported that the average father spends less than one minute each day in face-to-face conversation with his children.
Well, that’s enough negativity for now. What is a father to do? Ken Canfield, whom I mentioned earlier, wrote a book in 1996 entitled The Heart of a Father. He said there are three things that dads need to be good fathers. First, he said fathers need to resolve the relationship with their own father. Second, he said that dads are responsible for making a house a home. Finally, he said good fathers need to plan for the future.
Biblically speaking, I have my own three tips for fathers. The first is to invoke our children gently rather than with harshness or ridicule. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath… .” (Ephesians 6:4)
Second, use all possible time available, both quantity and quality, employing every day circumstances and experiences, along with the Bible, to guide and teach children. Life may not be a walk in the park, but a walk in the park will tell us a lot about life … and God.
Third, teach children about God and His ways. “Raise them (children) tenderly in the training and discipline and the council and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
And by the way, Happy Father’s Day!