If you watch any television shows or movies, you already know that fathers are depicted as goofs, idiots, womanizers, drunks, or worse. The father characters are usually weak, self-interested, and emotionally confused. Unfortunately, this stereotype is so pervasive on the screens being watched by our sons and daughters, that this lie is slowly becoming a reality in some homes.
True fatherhood is exactly the opposite of what Hollywood producers would like you to believe. Men, by their very nature, are called to be protectors and providers. Men have a strength and a power that, when used for good, can help a family and the greater community thrive.
Many of us are very familiar with the tremendous role that mothers play in the lives of their children, and as mothers remain the primary care-givers to young children, that role is self-evident. Mothers are nurturing, they provide emotional and psychological stability for their children, and they are the first and most important teachers. Few in society would question the critical role that mothers play in the proper development of young people, and the devastating effects that result when that nurturing is not provided.
For most of human history, until very recently, the role that fathers played in the family and in society was also self-evident. Due to the many dangers and difficulties in the world, from war to disease to starvation, the success, and in many cases the survival, of the family depended on the father. Furthermore, as the strength and stamina required to provide food and shelter for the family was considerable, this role was primarily held by the father. Contrary to popular culture, men did not see these important roles as opportunities to be tyrants in their homes; on the contrary, the reality of human survival created a codependence of the family to the father and of the father to the family. Men have throughout all of history recognized their purpose in life as protecting and providing for others, and countless men willingly and courageously sacrificed their very lives in pursuit of that purpose.
Popular culture today seems to have little need for men and certainly no respect for the power and strength that men are uniquely able to provide. This power and strength is not solely physical in nature but can include physical strength as well. If properly modeled and focused, this power can become an unstoppable force for good. If dismissed or rejected by society, this power will manifest itself in many negative ways, including promiscuity, addiction, sloth and, in some cases, physical violence.
Young men need be made aware of the unique role that the world desperately needs them to fill, and the world is depending on fathers to model that role. When boys grew up on farms along side their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and older brothers, this mentoring happened by default. As times have changed dramatically over the past 100 years, this mentoring must be intentional. Fathers and other male role models need to teach young men the value of hard work, perseverance, courage, respect for women, compassion for those in need, and steadfastness in the face of adversity. When young men are able to accomplish a difficult task or successfully overcome an obstacle, fathers need to be there with a nod of the head and a slap on the back.
Young women also need strong fathers. Fathers need to teach their daughters perseverance and grit so that when life gets tough, as it most certainly will, young women will have the skill sets needed to fight and flourish. Moreover, if a young girl has the admiration and pride of her father, she will have no need to look to other men to fill that gap. Young women with strong fathers will be much more likely to be confident and self-assured.
To all young fathers, older fathers, grandfathers and male role models, young people do need the guidance that only you can provide. So, turn off the television and go change the world!
By: Beth Voet