The Importance of Fathers

This coming Sunday is ‘Father’s Day’—a day we set aside each year to honor our nation’s fathers and their contribution to the family unit. Unfortunately, fathers are not appreciated as they once were in our country and their contributions in childrearing, especially when it comes to raising their sons—has fallen on ‘hard-times.’
 
I admit that much of the criticism directed at dads today is ‘self-inflicted’.
 
In other words, it has been ‘earned’ by many fathers in their failure to be good role models for their children, good providers, faithful and loving husbands to their wives (which has a huge impact on children and their emotional development) and godly leaders in the home (if they haven’t abandoned their families and their responsibilities in the home all-together).

Yet society at large has greatly helped to denigrate and destroy the institution of fatherhood in the minds of many—which hasn’t motivated men to be better fathers either.

In an article entitled, “The War on Fathers”, author David Kupelian writes: 
 
“‘Father knows best.’ How do those three words make you feel? Turn them over in your mind a couple of times and be aware of the subtlest of feelings. Be honest. Do they make you feel slightly squeamish? A little discomfort in your solar plexus? Is something deep down inside you repelled by those words?   
 
If so, you’re not alone. Contempt for male authority – as if to say, “Give me a break, father sure didn’t know best in my life” – is everywhere around us. We’re swimming in it. You see, men, boys and masculinity itself have been under withering national assault for decades.
 
“Father Knows Best,” of course, was a popular TV show during the 1950’s, when I was a little boy. Set in the wholesome Midwestern town of “Springfield,” insurance agent Jim Anderson (played by Robert Young) would come home from work each evening, trade his sport jacket for a nice, comfortable sweater, and then deal with the everyday growing-up problems of his family. Both Jim and wife Margaret (played by Jane Wyatt) were cast as thoughtful and mature grown-ups. Jim could always be counted on to resolve that week’s crisis with a combination of kindness, fatherly strength and good old common sense.
 
Today, more often than not, television portrays husbands as bumbling losers or contemptible, self-absorbed egomaniacs. Whether in dramas, comedies or commercials—the patriarchy is dead, at least on TV where men are fools.
 
However, it’s not only in Hollywood, but on Main Street, that masculinity has become uncool and even despised.”
 
What has happened in our country that, in such a short time, masculinity in general and fatherhood in particular has become so maligned?  Well, a variety of factors have worked together to bring us to this place.
 
Author J. Richard Fugate in his book, “What the Bible Says About Being a Man” gives us a brief summary of some of the factors that have led to the cultural shift that has come to characterize 21st century America.
 
“There were very few major changes in society for the first 200 years of America’s agrarian (living off the land) history. Prior to about 1840, families were self-sufficient—growing or making almost everything they consumed. The average family had seven children who were an integral part of the family economy and who were schooled at home.
 
Then, the Industrial Revolution totally changed American life from 1840 to 1940. The family unit became restructured during this period. Fathers left the homestead to work in the city and the men/father influence in society began to decrease. Most home functions (growing food, making clothes, building furniture, training the children) had to be abandoned. It was during this time that women/mothers, instead of men/fathers, gradually became the moral leaders of home, family, school, church, and social reform.
 
Soon after the war was over in 1945, several factors converged at about the same time. 
 
  1.    America was beginning to experience tremendous prosperity.
  2.   Men were gone long hours from their homes to obtain that prosperity. 
  3.   Women were running the homes and the schools.
 
These factors led to a lack of masculine training of little boys in America.
 
Between World War II and the prosperity of the 50s, fathers were often absent from the home and therefore unable to influence their boys properly and exemplify for them what it meant to be a man. Little boys were surrounded by women caregivers almost all the time. They had mothers at home, female teachers at school, and even women Sunday school teachers in most cases.  
 
While generally girls are all nice and sweet with just a hint of spice; boys are jumpy, wiggly, and slimy. Even a cursory observation of a preschool play yard today will reveal that boys are still up to their old tricks. Aggression seems to motivate their every activity. They run, compete, and attempt to dominate. They push, threaten, test, challenge, and explore. They roughhouse, and tumble. They love bodily contact and insist on there being a winner in every endeavor.
 
It is no surprise that women naturally detest certain facets of the male’s character [so much so that today they have come to call it ‘toxic-masculinity’]. Male aggression, often uncleanness, risk-taking, being academically lazy, and generally uncouth are not very lady like. Mothers and female teachers alike have long tried to restrict the supposedly negative and unseemly traits of boys and thus make them a little more like the sugar and spice genteel, and well-mannered girls.
 
Certainly, ladies did not mean anything wrong when they tried to eliminate toy guns from the hands of boys after all those wars. (Of course, without a gun the boys just picked up a stick or a doll’s leg and said, “bang.”)
 
Neither were these women being malicious when they tried to soften the corners on untrained boys. However, they knew little about how to develop boy’s masculinity correctly. That is how it should be—this was the job Dad should have been doing. However, without Dad, the tendency over the past 50 years has been to hand boys over to the female caregivers to be raised more like women than men.”
 
The effects of trying to “de-masculinize” and “feminize” little boys has taken its toll on them and on the men they eventually become in a number of areas.
 
Author David Kupelian gives some examples:
 
“In public school classrooms across America, in every category and every demographic group—boys are falling behind. Girls are excelling and moving on to college, where almost three out of every five students today are female. At the same time, young boys – who don’t naturally thrive when forced to sit still at a desk listening to a teacher lecture for six hours a day – are diagnosed by the millions with new diseases that didn’t exist a generation ago. To “treat” them and make their behavior more acceptable, we force them to take dangerous psycho-stimulant drugs—Yes, dangerous!
 
Between six and nine million American children, mostly males, are taking Ritalin, the most popular treatment for Johnny’s “attention-deficit” and “overactivity” problems at school. But Ritalin is the trade name for “Meth-al-fenidate” Methylphenidate—which the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies as a “Schedule II” substance. “The controlled substances in this schedule,” the DEA cautions, “have a high abuse potential with severe psychological or physical dependence liability, but have accepted medical use in the U.S.”
 
Thus, rather than focusing on understanding boys’ actual make-up and crafting an educational experience to fit their genuine needs, “pediatricians and child psychiatrists are increasingly turning to pharmacology as the treatment of choice for depression, attention disorder, severe anxiety, obsessive disorder, manic depression and other conditions,” reports the New York Times—and twice as many boys as girls are being given these psychiatric drugs.
 
“What we have done,” explains Thomas Mortenson, senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, “is we have a K-12 school system that seems to work relatively well for girls and does not work for a very large share of boys.”   School statistics show that: “Boys are greater than 50 percent more likely than girls to repeat grades in elementary school, according to a recent U.S. Department of Education study. They’re also one-third more likely to drop out of high school and twice as likely to have a learning disability.”
 
Oh yes—the suicide rate among teen boys is far higher than that of girls.  I think that most of this has come from our abandoning the God given roles of men and women in our society and the belief that God has made us and ‘wired’ us differently as males and females—for a reason.
 
The failure to acknowledge this fact is either due to ignorance or is a capitulation to feminists who are pushing for a totally egalitarian, androgynous society. We need to return to what the Bible says about the roles of men and women in the home and in society and realize that little boys are not “broken” and don’t need to be “fixed”—trained-yes, fixed-no!
 
Even as maverick feminist Camille Paglia courageously reminds her men-hating colleagues, ‘masculinity is “the most creative cultural force in history.”
 
Richard Fugate reinforces that by adding:  “Indeed, the “force” that for millennia has tamed the wilderness, constructed civilizations, revolutionized life through dazzling inventions and sacrificed its own life to protect women and children has been masculinity.”
 
However, he goes on to say,  “This behavioral conditioning away from masculinity has been disastrous for the past three generations of male adults graduating into society. Nobody seemed to realize that when the aggression is completely trained out (and/or shamed out) of a boy, it can produce a man who will not fight to provide for or protect his wife or family.
 
Women had no idea that taking away a boy’s competitiveness might result in his becoming a loser in the highly competitive game of life that most breadwinners must play.  Boys do need to learn how to control their aggression properly, but men who have been taught that all competitiveness is wrong will not likely strive for leadership positions in business, military, or government (or even in their own homes).”
 
The point has been made that little boys desperately need their fathers—their time, influence and teaching in what it means to be a man of God in character and sacrificial leadership.
 
So—What is the answer?
 
Men need to start acting like men   “A real man is not today’s foppish, effeminate “metrosexual” male, obsessed with clothing and hair care. But neither is he the caveman caricature of “Maddox,” author of the bestselling “The Alphabet of Manliness,” whose “real man” is a foul-mouthed brute who takes advantage of women at every opportunity and knows how to crush a beer can on his face.
 
The ultimate “real man,” of course, was Jesus of Nazareth. He was strong, outspoken and God-centered – also patient, sensitive and caring (but not effeminate). He was a “force of one,” who comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. He confronted people with their sins and hypocrisy, while offering nothing less than the way to God and everlasting happiness.”
 
So men need to start acting like the men God created them to be—“men of God.”
 
*  A man of God needs to be first and foremost a man of character. (1 Timothy 6:11)
 
*  Men need to be good providers for their families, but they must not put their jobs before their families.
 
What your children need most is you—not an iPad, cell phone or the latest designer clothes.
 
* A man is to be faithful to his wife, treating her with kindness, respect and appreciation if his sons are going to grew up with a good attitude toward women and his daughters will grow up understanding what a good man is all about and be able to choose and marry a man who will treat them the same way.
 
* Fathers are to love the Lord with all their heart and teach their children from the Bible and by their actions what God the Father is like. (Deut.6:4-9)
 
* Men are to be servant leaders in the home—they are not to abdicate that responsibility to their wives and wives you are not to usurp that role from your husband.
 
For all of this to happen men need to grow up and stop being overgrown, selfish kids indulging themselves in one toy after another; playing ball two or three nights a week and treating their families like a burden instead of a blessing.  If your earthly fathers abused, rejected or neglected you there is nothing you can do about it.
 
You can’t go back and change the past, but you don’t have to let the pain of the past control and ruin your present and future.
 
If you had a bad childhood, work to make your kids childhood a real blessing.  Don’t walk in the mistakes and shortcomings of your earthly father—learn about fatherhood from the example of your Heavenly Father by looking at the life of Jesus!
 
There is a story of a father and his young son who were climbing a mountain, when they came to a difficult and dangerous place on the trail. When this dad stopped to consider which way he should go, he heard his son behind him say, “Choose the right way, Dad—I’m coming right behind you!”
 
Choose the right way in your life dad—the most important people in your life are coming right behind you!
 
Happy Father’s Day!

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