If you watched the Super Bowl this year, you likely noticed the strategic marketing to men in general, but fathers, in particular. And for good reason – the right kind of men are needed, especially at home.
As someone who loves football, and a good commercial, it was refreshing to see Toyota, Nissan, and Dove encouraging men to be good fathers.
Let’s face it; parenting is hard. It’s easy for a father to minimize or misunderstand how important his role is in the home. For a lot of guys, home is the toughest place to be a man. The statistics of the fatherless are both scary and sobering.
In one study by the National Father Initiative, research found the following statistics:
“In America, 60 percent of all rapists, 72 percent of adolescent murders, and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates come from fatherless homes.”
In another study, research found that children from fatherless homes account for
- 63 percent of youth suicides
- 71 percent of pregnant teenagers
- 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children
- 85 percent of all youth who exhibit behavior disorders
- 71 percent of high school dropouts
The studies go on and on. Our culture has many social problems that are directly related to the role and responsibility a father is supposed to have in the home.
These are just the numbers of Dads that are absent – This does not account for the fathers who are present in their homes, but present in the wrong way.
For example, Martin Luther sadly commented on his own father in this way:
“I have difficulty praying the Lord’s Prayer because whenever I say ‘Our Father,’ I think of my own father, who was hard, unyielding, and relentless. I cannot help but think of God that way.”
So what are some simple and practical ways a father can impact his home and family in a positive way? There are certainly habits a father should avoid, but how can a father “gift” his family with the role God has called him to? While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are three simple gifts a father can give his family.
- The gift of being present (Mark 3:13-14)
Presence isn’t just about proximity; presence is about purpose. Jesus used his presence for the purpose of teaching, loving, preparing, nurturing, showing, and then, sending. Jesus desired to be present with his disciples for the purpose of preparing his disciples.
As a parent, sometimes one of the toughest places to be faithfully and fully alive is at home. It’s easy to be in close proximity to family, but not be fully present with them or for them. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the gift of ourselves.
Presence isn’t just about proximity; presence is about purpose. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the gift of ourselves.
- The gift of words (Genesis 1)
For most men, words don’t come easy. We’ve all heard or read the statistics; women use more words than men. Men would often times rather sit shoulder to shoulder, grunt, cheer, and occasionally offer a fist-bump. Not exactly meaningful or sophisticated, but we still call it communication.
Words don’t have to be weapons that wound. And they certainly don’t have to be pointless either. As fathers who image our Father, words can be used to bring life, joy, beauty, strength, and encouragement. We serve the God who speaks. Nine times in Genesis 1, we read, “And God said…” Words belong to God. They are not ours to use as we please. We speak because God speaks.
As a father, we can sin by what we say, but also by what we don’t say. Silence can be just as damaging. So use your words in a way that communicates truth, encouragement, love, and hope.
- The gift of tenderness (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12; Ephesians 6:4)
If you are a guy reading this, you are probably already reacting negatively to the idea of being tender. Tender doesn’t sound terribly masculine. “Men are supposed to be tough!” Yes, tough in the right way. Our modern fascination with the “macho man” misses the mark though of what Jesus calls fathers to be and do.
Throughout the New Testament, fathers are encouraged to be tender, loving, and encouraging. Yes, we are to train our children up by teaching them to walk in wisdom – disciplining when necessary. But nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to be harsh, domineering, easily angered or physically intimidating.
The cross is a reminder that we have a Father who has dealt with us kindly. He did not treat us as our sins deserved. Through Christ, He moved toward us in grace. He is a Father who is slow to anger, and abounding in love (Psalm 103:8). By His power, God invites us to be a different kind of father for our family – a father who gifts his family with his presence, his words, and his Christ-like tenderness.