Why bother trying to encourage fathers to step up to the plate and lead their families? The answer is obvious: Fatherless affects everything and everybody.
According to the National Center for Fathering, children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens. The power of a dad is immeasurable.
Remember that each time we as leaders encourage a dad to be a dad by spending time with his children, helping with homework, showing up for sporting events, attending church together, shooting hoops, taking them fishing or hunting… we are blessing a child. Jesus felt strongly about blessing children (Matthew 19:14), so should we.
Guest post by Leon Wirth, Sitting member of the Fatherhood CoMission Board and Executive Director with Focus on the Family
It’s natural for us to struggle with this question.
Sometimes we really do wonder…we wonder as dads if what we do really makes a difference in our family’s life. Do dads matter? What if I wasn’t there? Would they miss me? Do they really need me? Don’t they get most of what they need from their mom, the church, their teachers and coaches and friends?
The temptation comes because we feel discouraged, questioning whether or not we matter at work, at home and elsewhere. It comes when we wonder what it would like to be “free” from our family, without the daily grind that comes with family responsibilities. It comes when we’re tempted by the enemy to fantasize about starting a new life, a “mulligan” of sorts.
However and whenever you are tempted to think you don’t matter, whatever the reason, I challenge you to “perish the thought.” Think about the importance of your dad, present or not, in making you who you are. Look at the many examples in Scripture of reasons that dads are important and dads matter (and the Heavenly Father most of all).
Dads matter…an example
But if you need a practical example to encourage and inspire you, if it helps (and it sure does me), I urge you watch the following video, or find your favorite similar such video, and bookmark it to watch it from time to time.
Because few videos capture the importance of a dad in a family’s life, without any words needed, then a video that shows the homecoming of a military dad.
Wow. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ashamed to admit these scenes bring tears to my eyes every time.
Look at the joy. The relief. The desire to be in each other’s arms. Notice how the kids drop whatever they’re doing? Do you think there is anything more important than being in their dad’s arms at that moment? Do you think they’re thinking about sports, relationship problems, money, video games, homework, or what anyone else around them is thinking?
Dads can stir courage into their kids
The courage of the kids, in a way, is remarkable. They seemingly could care less about anyone else. Everything else seems to melt away as they rush to their fathers. Do you think they care what their peers think about them? Not a chance.
Dads can stir the courage and hearts of their kids in powerful ways.
In fact, study after study actually shows that the impact of a dad is powerful. Dad’s positively impact a child’s social, academic, relational, emotional and spiritual health. Some studies even show the impact of a dad is greater than the impact of a mom in certain aspects of a child’s life. That’s not to say dads are better, but it is to say that dads certainly matter.
Yes. It’s true. Dads really do matter.
Maybe that’s what these kids in the videos know better than we do as dads sometimes.
Those families are not perfect any more than yours or mine are perfect. They have problems. The dads eventually will get crossed up with the kids over something, just like you and I do with our kids. But at the moment of that reunion the message is simple: Dad, I’m so glad you’re here, you’re home.
The first question this raises for me is about my relationship with God. Do I enjoy my time with God like these kids do who are reunited with their dads? Do I run into His arms to tell Him I love Him? Do I accept His love in return as these kids so eagerly do?
The second question is for me as a dad in my family: Do I do everything I can in my time with my family that they’ll look forward like that to my coming home?
Sometimes I travel for work. And I love coming home and hearing “Daddy’s home!” But how I leave, and how I come home…where my head and heart and attitude are…can either help or hurt that “re-entry.”
But even on regular days, wouldn’t it be great if my kids and wife were like those families in the video, wanting my presence and longing for my hugs and words of love? Again, how I leave home and how I come home either helps or hurts my return.
The bottom line is this: I want to live in such a way that I’m missed, that my return home is exciting, that my presence is meaningful.
Yeah, when I watch those videos, I want to be THAT DAD, like one of our great military servicemen, who gets that kind of reception.
Leon C. Wirth is a Christian speaker, husband and father. He serves as Executive Director of Parenting and Youth at Focus on the Family and host of the Dad Matters podcast with Dr. Greg Smalley. He is the co-author of the book The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions. Leon lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters.