The other day I began to wonder what it means to be a father. That is to say I wonder what the expectations are for fathers in modern times. What is expected of fathers and what is not? When does a boy transition to a man and then to someone able to be a good father? Certainly it doesn’t seem to happen all at the same time. But what is a good father? Is it anything remotely close to the standard of a good mother? Motherhood and fatherhood are both difficult jobs to do well. The choices made by a mother and a father in a short few years can determine the way not only one person’s life will begin, but also can shape the lives of every descendant of that person for generations.
So what is a good father and where does that fit in to the grand scheme of parenting? Mothers for the most part seem to have it easy – at least as far as learning how to care for a child goes. Most of the time by the moment of birth they seem to have core values of a good parent ingrained in them from divine appointment. The simple things that mean so much just develop naturally for mothers. That isn’t to say it’s easy to accomplish these tasks; just easy to learn how to do them. Compared to this it would seem apparent that fathers have to learn from the birth of the child what most mothers already know. A good father has to be willing to sacrifice and put his family far before himself. This is again something that seems to be instinct for a mother while a father has to learn how to do it.
This sets up a double standard that is dumbfounding. What happens if the parents do not do their jobs? If a mother doesn’t instinctively take care of and nurture her child – excluding surrogate and adoptive situations – its nearly an abomination to motherhood. “How could she?” we’ll ask. “I cannot imagine not taking care of my child!” another will say. The responses are wide ranging but the sum of them all would basically be that we are stunned. It simply is unnatural to see a mother not long to do her inherited job of mothering a child and long to do it well. I wonder why though it isn’t near as shocking to see a father not live up to his end of the deal. Why is it not quite as stunning when a father walks away never even having known his child? Shouldn’t it be? Shouldn’t we ask the same questions of a father? Why do we not? Expectations on mothers are heavy but they also get nearly no margin for error. Fathers have what should be a heavy load as well but if they just dump it off, we just shrug. “He just doesn’t know what love is,” we might say or, “His father did the same to him and his father before him.” So it’s just an awe shucks kind of a feeling. It’s sad for the family and it’s surely not right, but it’s not looked down upon. I hate to say it but it’s nearly expected. This double standard is wrong and sets a lousy example for parenting in future generations.
What is expected of a father during this day in time then? The father at one time was supposed to be the spiritual leader of his home. He was the figure head of his family and led it proudly. He led them to church on Sunday and read the Bible to his sons and daughters. He set the boundaries along with his parenting partner, his wife. If there was a problem that needed hammering, he hammered it. If there was a situation that required handling, he handled it. Now what do we have? I think it best described by how the father is listed on too many school registration forms: N/A. And that says it all really. For people today in Hollywood all the way down to the people who run the government the father in the home is no longer applicable. He simply doesn’t matter and can be replaced by a degrading television show or a video game console. The sad fact is that this simply isn’t true. How many prison cells are full today because the father of that home was not applicable?
There is only one way to fix this problem but first it must be admitted by men everywhere to be a problem. From that point a father should do what fathers have done for generations to remain a strong leader of a family. He must stay focused on being a good Godly man first. If fathers do that – pray, spend time in the Word and spend time with his family – they will find the difficult job of being a good father is also quite instinctive.
I enjoyed this examination of parenthood. I think it is wonderful to share thoughts and ideas.
I do have a few suggestions. First examine your first paragraph. The first three lines say basically the same thing. It's always a good idea to start an article with an attention grabber. My first thought was I wonder what happened to make him wonder what makes a good father. Did your wife tell you that she is pregnant? Or perhaps you witnessed a father-son interaction at the park. In my opinion I think it would be a great attention grabber if you started with what made you think about this subject. This is just a random example to show you what I mean.
Last week after a nice, romantic dinner, my wife announced that a new baby would soon be rocking our world. After my heart rate slowed a bit and my head stopped spinning I was assaulted by different examples of a good father.
In my introduction I try to show the reader what was happening. By relating to the reader in this aspect it helps build a connection and urges the reader to keep reading.
You ask the readers some great questions and it really makes one stop and think. This would be a great start for a study group. I could see you expanding this a bit and using it as a tool in many different churches. The last paragraph is perfect. It gets right to the point and is a great message. I think many parents need that reminder. You've done a good job with this piece. Keep writing the words God lays on your heart.
I think this is wonderful and so true. I grew up without a father, but given he was a violent alcholic, I think God took him away for reason, but I would have loved to have the kind you describe in this writing, to be the leader and take me to church..God Bless You for writing this
Bravo David! You laid out each point so well ending with the most important way to achieve the answer to the question.
I would suggest to condense this as much as possible because readers do tend to 'tune' out longer pieces and you are trying to reach a very important audience.
Since your title draws in fathers maybe staying focused on them by not side-tracking too much on mothers would help ease tightening up your piece.
Very well done, David. That took a lot of thoughtful work and editing.
A fellow FW,
This article is an interesting look at the 'parenthood' question from the male point of view...and that's sorely needed in today's society!
I liked the major points made; I liked the pondering of the two edged sword/questions that, honestly, are asked by mommies,too.
Your writing is sound technically and you have a voice that speaks to reason.
A good piece of writing, could be used to really encourage other men who need to step up to the plate, or who are already there and waiting to swing!