Who are you? What made you the way you are? What do you look like? What do you value in life? What are your hopes, dreams and goals?
A plethora of other “deep” or “probing” questions could be asked about your person—but in almost every case, you could not turn to a single event that forms the answer. This is because your life experience from the day you were conceived has helped shape the person you are today.
From a scientific perspective, many answers to the above questions would begin with your brain. According to the University of Maine, the brain starts working from the beginning of life: “Brain cells are ‘raw’ materials—much like lumber is a raw material in building a house, and a child’s experiences and interactions help build the structure, put in the wiring, and paint the walls. Heredity (nature) determines the basic number of ‘neurons’ (brain nerve cells) children are born with, and their initial arrangement.
“At birth, a baby’s brain contains 100 billion neurons, roughly as many nerve cells as there are stars in the Milky Way, and almost all the neurons the brain will ever have. The brain starts forming prenatally, about three weeks after conception. Before birth, the brain produces trillions more neurons and ‘synapses’ (connections between the brain cells) than it needs. During the first years of life, the brain undergoes a series of extraordinary changes.”
From a young age, you were like a sponge, soaking up your environment—sounds, shapes, lights, faces, voices, languages, music, emotions, etc. As you grew, more complex things impacted your world, ultimately developing who you are today—parents, other caregivers, siblings, friends, education, physical environment, etc.
Now ask: which individuals were most responsible for your developmental years of life? For most readers, the answer is a father and mother.
For millennia, this has been the cycle of the family unit: A man and woman come together in marriage. They have children. They care for their children and teach them how to live. The children grow up, take what they have learned, and live their own lives, usually becoming parents. And thus, the cycle continues.
That cycle is quickly falling apart. The social experiments of the 20th and 21st centuries—which have attempted to redefine the roles of parent and child—have caused the family to come under assault. One of the most profound changes that has resulted is that families are increasingly becoming fatherless.
Over the last 50 years, more and more children have been growing up without their fathers. The role of a father should, simply from a mathematical perspective, be one that contributes 50 percent to the development of any child. But millions of children in the United States, and the world at large, will put their heads on a pillow tonight in a home without one.
Notice these statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau:
Think about the last point. Seventeen million children are growing up without a father figure—without the teaching, guiding, experience-building, correcting and nurturing that a father can bring. When you see 20 children, realize that five are not living with their father.
In the 1950s, the term “nuclear family” was coined. This essentially described a family of a father, mother and children. This was to distinguish from an “extended family,” which could include grandparents, or others. By the 1960s, 80 percent of America’s children lived with two married parents—today under 70 percent do.
Clearly, the nuclear family is facing a meltdown. Where will it end? What impact will this have on millions of minds—generation after generation?
We live in a time when children’s minds are turned away from their fathers. Again, millions of children do not see or live with their fathers. Then there are those who still live under the same roof, but with fathers who are emotionally distant because of work schedules, or the child is distant because he or she is always watching television and playing video games.
In the end, fathers are absent from their children physically and, in even more cases, mentally and emotionally.
Regarding fathers, their children, and the relationship they should have, consider just a few proverbs from the world’s number-one bestselling book, the Bible:
These proverbs are expressed to children regarding the need to listen to the instruction and teaching of their father. If they do not take heed, they are simply foolish, and will bring shame and reproach to the family. In the end, a child who does not adhere to wisdom lives an unhappy life. But sons and daughters cannot apply these scriptures if the father is not at home—or is not fulfilling his duty when he is!
Millennia ago, the Creator of life ordained the marriage institution between a man and a woman. The purpose of marriage was always to bring great happiness and peace, and create a wonderful environment in which children could grow up in a correct way. It is a God-ordained structure that is to be followed. Both husbands and wives have distinct roles and duties—all of which are very important!
Look at the father’s role. Often those who are present in the home do not know how to properly rear their children. In addition, the father’s role in a family is ridiculed and lambasted endlessly.
Think of television advertisements or sitcoms where both a husband and wife are present. The father is almost always portrayed as a bumbling buffoon who needs his wife to make every decision for the well-being of the family. Ultimately, both husbands and wives have followed this way of thinking in their own marriages.
Many husbands and fathers today stand in stark contrast to how the Creator of man defined their duty: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:23-25).
Around the globe, fathers are not taking charge—they are not leading their families as they should. The end result is that children do not have two parents—the God-ordained team—to guide them, to develop their minds, to teach them, to correct them, and to love them.
Fathers, you were asked at the beginning of this article, “Who are you?”
The answer to this question lies in the actions you take in addition to the choices your parents made. You must ask, who will your children become? You have the potential to create human beings who will succeed, make the right decisions, have their own happy families—and in the end, reach their ultimate potential.
You have brought children into the world, and properly rearing them is your responsibility. All the physical possessions you gain in your life, the riches and the material things, are not permanent. But your children will live on, and they, in turn, will also have children, who will have children, and so on. The parenting decisions you make now will affect generations to come.
In his book, Train Your Children God’s Way David C. Pack details the importance of the special bonds fathers develop with their families.
The U.S.-based National Fatherhood Initiative reported that a father’s involvement in a child’s life affects every aspect of mental, social, psychological and physical development.
Consider the following statistics:
“Fathers, strive to always be a hero to your son(s). Be sure that he can always look up to your example. Remember at all times that what your son is seeing in you is largely what he will become in adulthood. It has been shown that positive father role models produce sons who are both generally more sound in thinking and better at overall problem-solving. An example of strength and maturity displayed by you will reappear later in your sons.”
“Be sure to set a masculine example for your sons. They are watching more closely than you realize! Remember, Solomon wrote, ‘The glory of young men is their strength’ (Prov. 20:29). Reflecting a masculine example includes demonstrating a certain amount of strength that your son will want to emulate.”
Likewise, Mr. Pack writes concerning daughters, “It has been said that girls tend to marry men who are most like their fathers. This makes being a good father more crucial than meets the eye. It is not unusual for abused girls to marry abusive men. The daughters of warm, kind, patient, wise and loving fathers generally look for the same qualities in prospective mates. And this would naturally be the kind of man fathers want their daughters to look up to. (Of course, this is also true for their sons, in reverse.) Not only do girls who have not had a close relationship with a father potentially have great difficulty in marriage, they also struggle with being comfortable in relationships with—and even being in the presence of—all men throughout the course of their lives.”
The choice is yours. Will you contribute to the nuclear family meltdown—or will you counter it in your home?