The Vital Role of Fathers

“INCREASING numbers of young men want to take an active role in raising their children. Eighty-two per cent of men aged 21 to 39 chose to have a work schedule that allowed more time with their families,” says Canada’s Toronto Star newspaper concerning a recent Harvard University study. According to the study, in which 1,008 U.S. men and women ages 21 to 65-plus were surveyed, 71 percent of young men said that they “would give up some of their pay for more time with their families.”

Why do many fathers want to be more involved with their children? David Blankenhorn, one of the founders of the National Fatherhood Initiative, which promotes responsible, committed fatherhood, noted that in a 1994 survey of 1,600 U.S. men, 50 percent said that their fathers were emotionally absent during their childhood. Many of today’s fathers do not want to see this pattern repeated.

Fathers who are actively involved with their children can be a wholesome influence. Referring to research published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Toronto Star said that when fathers eat meals with their children, go on outings with them, and help with homework, there are “fewer behaviour problems, higher levels of sociability and a higher level of school performance among children and adolescents.”

The foregoing highlights an arrangement for raising children that is as practical today as when first penned over three thousand years ago. The Originator of the family specifically instructed fathers to be actively involved in raising their children. (Ephesians 3:14, 15; 6:4) Fathers were counseled to inculcate a love for God in the hearts of their children and to speak to them of God’s regulations and commandments. God told them to do this ‘when they sat in their house and when they walked on the road and when they lay down and when they got up.’—Deuteronomy 6:7.

Parenting is a shared responsibility. The Bible admonishes children: “Listen . . . to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.” (Proverbs 1:8) The role of the father is vital. It includes supporting and respecting the mother and sharing in child-rearing tasks. It also requires spending time reading to and talking with the children. This fills a vital emotional need of children.

Unquestionably, the Bible is the most reliable source of counsel and sound principles for a well-adjusted family. A father who actively provides for the spiritual, emotional, and material needs of his family is fulfilling his God-assigned responsibility.