The high calling of fatherhood
Think about your life as a father. Do your children regard you as a most essential part of their lives? Or do they think they are better off without you?
Fathers are created for the high calling of connecting humanity to posterity. Fatherhood is a position of leadership and moral ascendancy.
In the Philippines, the metaphorical term “haligi ng tahanan (pillar of the house)” is used for fathers who provide their families with protective care, guidance and wisdom. In the Bible, God himself is acknowledged and addressed as “Father” more than any other holy names. And to underscore the importance of fathers on earth, He gave Jesus an adoptive father, a carpenter named Joseph, to take care of his welfare and wellbeing as the Son of Man.
Unfortunately, there are fathers who miss out on the fact that faithful fatherhood is one of the most meaningful and fulfilling privileges men can have.
Today, fatherless homes are increasing in record numbers. It is no longer surprising to find a woman opting more for single motherhood than living with a problem husband. Neglected children have also learned to go through life with absentee biological fathers.
In an interview for a magazine for single-parent families, a 19-year-old boy lamented the separation of his mom and dad due to irreconcilable differences. Still, he nurtured hopes that his parents would be back together, and his dad would show him how to be a real man by owning up to his mistakes and making amends.
A teenaged girl admitted she had been deeply wounded by his father’s unfaithfulness and meanness to her mother. “When he finally left her for another woman, I was devastated by the turn of events, but, at the same time, I also felt relieved that he was no longer around to cause us so much pain. Yes, I can forgive him because I know God wants me to do so, but forgiving him does not mean wanting him back.”
In his book “Life without Father,” family sociologist David Popenoe observes that “massive erosion in the father role model and the hardships of single-mother supervision” have added much to the problems of juvenile delinquency, drug abuse and depression.
To cushion the impact of separation on the children, some parents agree on a setup that allows shared responsibilities and decision-making as well as father-child visits.
But in situations where the support of a biological father cannot be counted upon, a child’s need for paternal presence can be met by a substitute or surrogate father figure. That trusted person—an uncle, a grandfather or a family friend—can guide a child as he or she goes through the pains and trials of growing up.
Fathers need a deep understanding of the emotional and psychological development of their sons and daughters. In an article titled “Father Forgets” (from a Reader’s Digest anthology), W. Livingston Larned confessed how he had been cross and impatient with his young son, scolding and humiliating him for small matters such as a spilling things and wearing socks with holes. One time, he was reading in the library when his son came in timidly. Impatient at the interruption, he snapped, “What is it you want?”
Saying nothing, the boy ran across, hugged and kissed him. Realizing how unkind he had been, and feeling ashamed, Larned knelt by his son and apologized to him: “It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of you. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years… But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh…”
Austin L. Sorenson, author of “Is America Committing Suicide?” wrote: “A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father.”
A story is told of preschool children in a Sunday school who were asked by their teacher to draw a picture of God. The children came up with different illustrations, including rainbows and men with big hands.
One child drew a man in a suit and tie and told the teacher: “I don’t know what God looks like, so I just drew my daddy instead.”
Prosy Badiola Torrechante once served as an assistant teacher in a church-based school.