By Joan Callander Dingle
Joan is a neighbor of ours and is a published author. Joan is presently participating in one of Linda’s Disciple Groups. The following is copyrighted by Joan.
God created the family structure and placed His son Jesus in it’s care, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul tells husbands to love and protect their wives, women to obey their husbands (“as to the Lord”, who is perfect—not abusive, not dysfunctional), and children to respect and obey their parents. Satan is busy destroying the sanctity of family and the God-given roles, authority and responsibilities of fathers.
“Tonight, one out of every three children in America will go to bed in a home absent their father. And it’s not just that these kids are going to bed without their fathers tonight, 40 percent of children who don’t live with their fathers haven’t seen their father during the past year. And one-half have never set foot in their father’s home.”
Fatherless households produce:
- 71% of high school dropouts
- 75% of adolescents in chemical abuse centers
- 90% of homeless and runaway kids
- Adults five to six times more likely to be poor and according to a Princeton University study, “each year spent without a dad in the home increased the odds of future incarceration by five percent.”
What do fathers teach that moms can’t?
When fathers are absent the godly order of a male head of household isn’t there and boys do not get to see the biological, emotional and spiritual differences in the genders. Being a single parent is hard and this is not to disrespect the awesome job many do under circumstances that were not of their choosing. It simply is a personal observation, reinforced by statistical data and studies I have seen or read about.
I was a single mom for my grandson for seven years and discovered women don’t do the roughhouse stuff well because generally we aren’t physically equipped to do it. We can’t, help boys with male bonding or give girls that special ‘father-daughter’ relationship that lays the groundwork for all their future male/female relationships.
Women often promote ‘nurture, caution and sensitivity’ over, ‘be adventurous, protect yourself if attacked and physically stand up for what is right’. Children emulate what they see and boys need fathers to show them how husbands and dads talk and act around women so they will know how to stand up for their sisters, treat the girls they date with physical restraint and emotional respect and what to look for in a marriage partner. Girls need to know what to expect, accept and reject from men.
I think there is also a tendency for children of single parents, and again boys especially, to get too close to us, their single parent, and when they try to separate and become independent it adds extra layers of guilt and rebellion to already difficult and dangerous years.
Girls growing up without a dad at home are much more likely to have sex as a teenager and three times more likely to have unplanned pregnancies. 86% of teen births in 2007 were to unwed mothers. The good news is that teenagers now account for only 23% of out-of-wedlock births compared to 50% in 1970; however, 60% of births to women 20-24 and one-third of births to women 25-29 involved single women. Clearly the message that their child’s success depends on a healthy marriage with a loving relationship and involved father in the home is not being communicated.
93% of prisoners in 2002 were men and according to Bureau of Justice statistics, 55% of them had minor kids. Kody Scott a Los Angeles gang member whose book Monster talks about gruesome murders, assaults and other crimes says succinctly, “I am the product of a man who wasn’t there.”
My husband and I adopted my grandson when he was in the fifth grade and shortly after he spoke to inmates at the Oregon State Penitentiary as part of a children’s puppetry ministry at Rolling Hills Community Church. He told them, “I’m glad that I got adopted because now my dad takes me places and does stuff with me like dirt biking and car shows. In the future my birth dad (will have) helped me because he showed me what not to do when I have kids. My new dad shows me what to do when I have kids.” There were inmates with tears in their eyes, in a place where softness can draw unwanted attention and I don’t know if they were crying for themselves or their offspring.
How Do You Father?
You are there. Once you create a life your, “what about me days?” are numbered. One of the greatest gifts we give our children is for them to know they are loved, their parents are committed to each other and their home life will be stable. Maria Shriver wrote, “Once you have children, you not only can’t do it all, you can’t do it the same way…don’t expect to be the same hard-driving, workaholic, do-anything, go-anywhere worker you were. Because if you are, your children will suffer… At work, you’re replaceable. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. But as a parent you’re irreplaceable.”
You are involved. From night feedings to reading the books they are assigned in school (so you know what messages they are getting and can share your thoughts on them) to taking them to church and the million other day-do-day things that make up their day, you must be there when they need you. Parenting is harder than ever because of technology. Between I-pods, cell phones, television, music and Internet our children are exposed to every sinful activity at increasingly young ages. Up close and personal in the school hallways, on playgrounds and even sometimes church-related youth functions are drugs, sexually inappropriate attire and acts as well as adult teachers/leaders with non-Christian values. The only anecdote is time spent together, listening to them, playing with them, supporting them and showing them right from wrong. Letting them know by your words and actions that they are loved and loveable.
Josh McDowell’s book The Disconnected Generation talks a great deal about “rules without relationship equal rebellion”—a good supplement for the ‘instruction manual’ that some jokingly say never came with their kids.
You love them as God created them. Proverbs 22:6 talks training our children according to their “bent” or “the way they should go”. Whether you have an athlete, scholar, musician or rebel child praise their efforts – even when the results are less than successful–and even when their interests are different from yours. Live your life—but not through them. Let them develop the gifts that make them unique and help them find joy in being themselves.
Pray and stay the course. Pray that they will stay in God’s perfect will and that you have the wisdom to use the right words and the right discipline when necessary. Don’t duck the hard issues—you are your child’s father, not their friend. A friend said once, “I pray that God will show me what I need to know about my kids.” I started saying that prayer when my son was in high school and learned about some things that I wished I didn’t have to deal with—but better when consequences are small and behaviors more easily changed, then when things are so far out of control, that the cost is life shattering.
There is no earthly job title more important than “dad” and no task more daunting or fulfilling. Every day say to your self, “I am a father.” Pray the contents of Colossians 2:7 (NASB) for yourself and your sons. “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed,…”
©Joan Callander Dingle, contact: 503 722-8091 or firstname.lastname@example.org. May not be reprinted, stored in a database or otherwise utilized without written permission.
 Matthew 1:17-19 (in Context) Matthew 1 (Whole Chapter)
 NCHS Data Brief #18, May 2009.
 Shriver, Maria, Ten Things I Wish I’d Known—Before I Went Out into the Real World, Warner Books, 2000, pgs 81-82.