Focus on the Family


by Traci Gray

Before the industrial revolution, fathers often worked side by side with their sons and instructed their children in spiritual values. When industrialization took over the American landscape, fathers left their farms and headed to the factories. Fourteen- to 16-hour workdays set the stage for the absentee father.

Eventually, fathers came to be regarded as merely breadwinners who fulfilled their paternal duties by providing.

But is that image changing again?

Research shows that tweens and teens need the firm leadership a father provides. A child performs better in school if his father takes an interest in his education. Children have more confidence when their fathers spend time with them and show them affection. Kids learn from watching their fathers' decisions and listening to logical explanations.

Work pressures and other commitments may make it easy for some men to feel they don't have the time. However, a 2002 study found that men born after 1965 spent 50 percent more time per workday with their children than boomer fathers (an average of 3.4 hours, versus 2.2 hours). That same year a workplace survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management discovered that men ranked the need to balance work and home life higher than their female colleagues.

Involved fathers find the time to attend their children's games and recitals. They pull themselves away from the TV to show their children how to change a tire and balance a checkbook. They set firm limits and encourage their kids to do their best — even when they fail.

Take a look at the questions below.

The answers to these questions may reveal what your children desperately long for. Now it's up to you to provide it. It may make your pocketbook a little thinner, but the benefits could be priceless.

Chosen for Fatherhood

God chooses ordinary men for fatherhood to accomplish His extraordinary plan.

by Randy Wilson

"The greatest political storm flutters only a fringe of humanity, but an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children will literally alter the destiny of nations." –GK Chesterton

I have some favorite dads in Scripture. The thing I love about them is that they are all ordinary men. The only thing that made them extraordinary was that God chose them and they said "yes."

Abraham is one of those men. "For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what He has promised him" (Genesis 18:19, NIV, emphasis added).

What an awesome verse about God's plan for fatherhood. Talk about the purpose driven life. Here is a purpose statement from God to each of us as dads. This is our call and this is our place. Let's look at these words in this powerful verse.

For I have chosen him

The word chosen in the Hebrew describes the intimacy of God that He knows and recognizes you, and that He will show you what He has for you. His choosing you is His commitment to teach you His ways as a dad. Think of it. You have been chosen – handpicked – by God – to father the children he has given you. No one else can take your place. No matter what you feel you are lacking, you are the perfect dad for your children. With all of your flaws and with all of your fears, you have been chosen. Your children need you. You are God's answer for their deepest yearnings for identity, value and love. You have been chosen to express God's heart that your children are fully accepted and unconditionally loved. God can use your heart, your presence, your hugs, your laughter and your voice to engrave His eternal identity and love into their beings.

So that he will direct his children after him

The Hebrew meaning for direct is to command, order. After God chooses us for fatherhood, He then enables us to direct our children in His ways. We direct our children through modeling and mentoring in the ways of the Lord. If we don't give them direction they will receive it from their peers, media, culture and all the other places in the world that are so ready to influence them. The enemy is looking for you to abdicate your place so he can come in with his authority and captivate your children through his ways.

Keep the way of the LORD

The Hebrew meaning for keep is to watch, guard, observe, to cling to. As fathers do we model keeping the ways of the Lord? Do our children see us watching, guarding and observing His commands? Do they see us in everyday life clinging to the words and the ways of the LORD?

By doing what is right and just

In the Hebrew these words deal with standards, relating to God's righteousness. We keep God's ways as men, when our actions model righteousness and justice. Ordinary men become extraordinary fathers when they show up and say "yes" to God. Ordinary men and their ordinary families alter the destiny of nations by clinging to God and walking in His ways.

You are chosen. You are God's man for God's time. You are the ordinary dad who can alter history by loving and directing your children everyday. The time is now. Our Heavenly Father is waiting to bring about His promises for you.

A Date With Dad

The bond you develop with your daughter during real times of conversation and connection pays dividends.

by Lynne Thompson, Cheryl Gochnauer

Katie giggles as she waits for her date to come around and open the car door. The pair enters an ice cream shop. She sits down at the table as her date gently pushes in her chair. He takes her hand from across the table and asks, "What flavor would you like tonight, Sugar?" Katie smiles and says, "I'll have chocolate, Daddy."

More and more fathers are becoming aware of their influence and regularly dating their daughters.

"The research clearly says that daddies make all the difference in the world," says Kevin Leman, national speaker and author of What a Difference Daddy Makes. "I have tremendously more impact on my daughter than my wife does."

Pete, a 38-year-old father from California, has already started taking out 9-year-old Cassie, hoping to get a jump on the dating scene.

"I believe the openness she has at this age is only for a season," Pete explains. "Right now I have an opportunity to love her or reject her. If I ignore her now, she isn't going to come to me later with the tough questions. I'm hoping that doing these special 'nights out' will help her understand that she's valuable and will stop her from even accepting attention from a guy who doesn't treat her with the same respect."

For men mindful of their Day-Timers, Robert Wolgemuth, author of She Calls Me Daddy, warns against multitasking.

"Every once in a while you see a dad at a restaurant with one of his kids, and the child is gazing around the room while the dad reads the newspaper," he says. "No points for that. Conversation is the crown jewel of the relationship."

The bond you develop with your daughter during real times of conversation and connection pays dividends.

"What you are doing as a man is prioritizing your time," Leman explains. "Most kids grow up knowing Dad is a pretty busy guy. Your daughter needs to know the sacrifice you've made in your priority list; making sure she comes up No. 1. The fact that you affirm your daughter's femininity and treat her special says to her, ‘Honey, seek somebody special in life. Seek someone who is going to treat you right.'"

Reluctantly, one dad who had raised his daughter with consistent date nights had to admit that she did a good job of picking a husband, though he noted: "There is no one good enough for my daughter." And all the fathers shout a hearty, "Amen."

Things to Keep in Mind

Father's Day is a perfect time to celebrate Dad — and to remember the important role that men play in their children's lives.

Been awhile since you had some "just us" time with your tween? Whether planned ("Let's see that new movie Tuesday night") or spontaneous ("Come on, let's go workout together"), dates with your kids are a great way to enhance the relationship.

Do something different. Sure, your child likes it when you take him out for pizza. But how about getting a slice at a nearby college town and then surprising him with tickets to a game?

Tie into a current activity. Is your child learning a new instrument? Take her to a live play or concert where she can watch professionals play that same instrument. Is he interested in painting? Grab some art supplies, drive to a local nature center and spend the afternoon putting your creations on canvas. Keep the results — pretty or not — as mementos.

Dress down. She may have loved dressing up for that father-daughter banquet when she was 6. But at 12, she's more comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt. If it's appropriate, keep it casual.

Let your child run the radio. Who knows? You might like the station. Watch the look on your tween's face when you tell him that his favorite tune is actually a remake of one you danced to in the '70s.

Don't embarrass your child. Be sensitive to his reaction to your actions. With tweens, it's easy to cross a line you didn't even know was there.

Set a positive tone. This is a time for fun, not an opportunity to discipline or force a teachable moment.

Turn off the cell phone. This goes for both of you.

Follow the conversational lead. Friends are your tween's No. 1 priority. More than likely, you'll hear numerous tales of stuff going on at school, who got invited to the latest party and who's going out with whom. (Don't worry; at this stage, "going out" means they like somebody, not that they're actually dating.)

Don't interrupt. Be open and listen carefully, especially if your tween starts relating a problem she's having. Let her talk freely, simply adding a word or two to encourage her to keep going. This is a time to resist your proactive problem-solving impulses; tweens will shut down every time you try to fix something before they feel you understand what it is.

Enjoy yourselves. Plan your next outing soon.

Date Night Activities

  1. See the town. Go for a drive pointing out areas to avoid and fun places to hang out.
  2. Dine out. Eat at a restaurant that doesn’t serve toys in a bag. Make it a fancy evening.
  3. Drink mocha. Visit your local coffeehouse or bookstore.
  4. Get fit. Go bike riding, inline skating or scootering.
  5. Share a hobby. Collect stamps, paint or build something together.
  6. Play games. Go bowling, golfing or hit the arcades.
  7. Shop. This may be the only chance you have at helping her pick out an outfit. It also provides a great opportunity for a healthy talk about modesty.
  8. Take a risk. Ask her what she wants to do. After all, you’ll expect her potential dates to think of her interests as he plans outings.

Fathers — Stay Close to Your Child

An absent or negative father-child relationship can produce long-lasting damage in their lives.

by Focus on the Family

Does an absent or negative father have any influence on his child's faith? Yes. Sadly, that influence is almost always negative.

  1. Dr. Paul C. Vitz, professor of psychology at New York University and a former atheist, is the author of Faith of the Fatherless. In this thought-provoking book, Vitz diagnoses the root causes of atheism and agnosticism. In studying the biographies of many of the leading atheists of the past three centuries, Vitz concludes that virtually all had an absent, distant, harassed or abusive father early in their childhood — often before 18 months of age.
  2. Three years before Dr. Vitz's findings were published, Luis Palau and David Sanford noted the same phenomenon in their book God Is Relevant. They observed: "Darwin, Huxley, Nietzsche, and Freud, among others, felt a great deal of animosity or hatred toward their fathers, almost all of whom were religious men exhibiting some fault their sons found intolerable. Schopenhauer also may have deeply resented his father, who apparently committed suicide while Arthur was a boy; he certainly felt much bitterness toward his mother. Psychological research by William Glasser and others suggests that severe parent-child alienation often produces negative long-term effects, which was certainly the case for each of these men."
  3. The bottom line? A bad father-child relationship can produce long-lasting spiritual damage in the life of the child. That damage will cause multiple negative repercussions in other spheres of that child's life for years to come. No wonder Scripture warns:
    • "Fathers, do not exasperate your children" (Ephesians 6:4).
    • "Fathers, do not embitter your children" (Colossians 3:21).
  4. Thankfully, as a parent you can make your child's relationship with God the first priority as you raise him or her. There's still hope!
  5. If you've struggled in the past with faith issues because of your own father's failings, resolve to form a new spiritual heritage.

Next Steps and Related Information

Additional resources for fathers

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