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    A young man was to be sentenced to the penitentiary. The judge had known him from childhood, for he was well acquainted with his father--a famous legal scholar and the author of an exhaustive study entitled, "The Law of Trusts." "Do you remember your father?" asked the magistrate. "I remember him well, your honor," came the reply. Then trying to probe the offender's conscience, the judge said, "As you are about to be sentenced and as you think of your wonderful dad, what do you remember most clearly about him?" There was a pause. Then the judge received an answer he had not expected. "I remember when I went to him for advice. He looked up at me from the book he was writing and said, 'Run along, boy; I'm busy!' When I went to him for companionship, he turned me away, saying "Run along, son; this book must be finished!' Your honor, you remember him as a great lawyer. I remember him as a lost friend." The magistrate muttered to himself, "Alas! Finished the book, but lost the boy!"

    Homemade, February, 1989.

    One of the best pictures I've ever seen on the current confusion on the placement of fathers comes from Erma Bombeck. She paints a portrait of a little girl who loved her dad but wasn't sure what dads do:

    One morning my father didn't get up and go to work. He went to the hospital and died the next day. I hadn't thought that much about him before. He was just someone who left and came home and seemed glad to see everyone at night. He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn't afraid to go into the basement by himself.

    He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures . . . but he was never in them.

    Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, "I'm going off to work now," and threw him under the bed. The funeral was in our living room and a lot of people came and brought all kinds of good food and cakes. We had never had so much company before. I went to my room and felt under the bed for the daddy doll. When I found him, I dusted him off and put him on my bed. He never did anything. I didn't know his leaving would hurt so much (Family -- The Ties that Bind . . and Gag! (New York: Fawcett Books, 1988, p. 2).

    Dave Simmons,  Dad, the Family Coach, Victor Books, 1991.

    There's a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

    Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, p. 13.

    Keith Hernandez is one of baseball's top players. He is a lifetime .300 hitter who has won numerous Golden Glove awards for excellence in fielding. He's won a batting championship for having the highest average, the Most Valuable Player award in his league, and even the World Series. Yet with all his accomplishments, he has missed out on something crucially important to him -- his father's acceptance and recognition that what he has accomplished is valuable. Listen to what he had to say in a very candid interview about his relationship with his father: One day Keith asked his father, "Dad, I have a lifetime .300 batting average. What more do you want?" His father replied, "But someday you're going to look back and say, 'I could have done more.'"

    Gary Smalley & John Trent, Ph.D., The Gift of Honor, p. 116.

    Seoul -- At his father's funeral, American Carl Lewis placed his 100-meter gold medal from the 1984 Olympics in his father's hands. "Don't worry," he told his surprised mother. "I'll get another one."

    A year later, in the 100-meter final at the 1988 games, Lewis was competing against Canadian world-record-holder Ben Johnson. Halfway through the race Johnson was five feet in front. Lewis was convinced he could catch him. But at 80 meters, he was still five feet behind. It's over, Dad, Lewis thought. As Johnson crossed the finish, he stared back at Lewis and thrust his right arm in the air, index finger extended. Lewis was exasperated. He had noticed Johnson's bulging muscles and yellow-tinged eyes, both indications of steroid use. "I didn't have the medal, but I could still give to my father by acting with class and dignity," Lewis said later. He shook Johnson's hand and left the track. But then came the announcement that Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids. He was stripped of his medal. The gold went to Lewis, a replacement for the medal he had given his father.

    David Wallechinsky, The Complete Book of the Olympics, Reader's Digest.

    Charles Francis Adams, the 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!" The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know one's ultimate purpose in life and to judge accordingly.

    Silas Shotwell, in Homemade, September, 1987. 

    What are Fathers Made Of?

    A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth without an anesthetic.

    A father is a thing that growls when it feels good--and laughs very loud when it's scared half to death.

    A father never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child's eyes. He's never quite the hero his daughter thinks, never quite the man his son believes him to be--and this worries him, sometimes. So he works too hard to try and smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who will follow him.

    A father is a thing that gets very angry when the first school grades aren't as good as he thinks they should be. He scolds his son though he knows it's the teacher's fault. Fathers are what give daughters away to other men who aren't nearly good enough so they can have grandchildren who are smarter than anybody's .

    Fathers make bets with insurance companies about who'll live the longest. Though they know the odds, they keep right on betting. And one day they lose.

    I don't know where fathers go when they die. But I've an idea that after a good rest, wherever it is, he won't be happy unless there's work to do. He won't just sit on a cloud and wait for the girl he's loved and the children she bore. He'll be busy there, too, repairing the stairs, oiling the gates, improving the streets, smoothing the way.

    Paul Harvey.

    Jamie Buckingham tells a story in his book, Power for Living. It was a story first told by Fred Craddock while lecturing at Yale University. He told of going back one summer to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to take a short vacation with his wife. One night they found a quiet little restaurant where they looked forward to a private meal—just the two of them.

    While they were waiting for their meal they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting guests. Craddock whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” He didn’t want the man to intrude on their privacy. But the man did come by his table.

    “Where you folks from?” he asked amicably.


    “Splendid state, I hear, although I’ve never been there. What do you do for a living?

    “I teach homiletics at the graduate seminary of Phillips University.”

    “Oh, so you teach preachers, do you. Well, I’ve got a story I want to tell you.” And with that he pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with Craddock and his wife.

    Dr. Craddock said he groaned inwardly: Oh no, here comes another preacher story. It seems everyone has one.

    The man stuck out his hand. “I’m Ben Hooper. I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born so I had a hard time. When I started to school my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and during lunch-time because the taunts of my playmates cut so deeply.

    “What was worse was going downtown on Saturday afternoon and feeling every eye burning a hole through you. They were all wondering just who my real father was.

    “When I was about 12 years old a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in church on me. Just about the time I got to the door I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me.

    “Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’

    I felt the old weight come on me. It was like a big black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down.

    But as he looked down at me, studying my face, he began to smile a big smile of recognition. “Wait a minute,” he said, “I know who you are. I see the family resemblance. You are a son of God.”

    With that he slapped me across the rump and said, “Boy you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.”

    The old man looked across the table at Fred Craddock and said, “That was the most important single sentence ever said to me.” With that he smiled, shook the hands of Craddock and his wife, and moved on to another table to greet old friends.

    Suddenly, Fred Craddock remembered. On two occasions the people of Tennessee had elected an illegitimate to be their governor. One of them was Ben Hooper.

    Jamie Buckingham, Power for Living.

    I think that we can affirm that fathers are called upon to be nurturers. We see so much that is negative about society today that sometimes we forget that there are some very possible things that are happening. One of those positive things, it seems to me, is that society is completely rethinking what the role of the father should be. Society, and the church to a lesser degree, is saying: it is not enough dad, just to be the breadwinner. You need to help with the nurturing as well.

    This is not always easy because men historically have not done this. There was an interesting story that appeared on the NBC Today show that told about a YMCA program in California. Fathers are placed in a playroom with their children. The mothers watch from a one-way window outside in the hallway. The one rule is that if the child starts crying, the father cannot take him or her to the mother. He must resolve the problem himself. If the child is given to the mother when it is crying, so the theory goes, that sends the signal that the one who gives the comfort and love is the mother.

    LD, Sermon Illustrations, 1999.

    Lengthy Illustrations

    When the good Lord was creating Fathers he started with a tall frame. And a female angel nearby said, "What kind of Father is that? If you're going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put Fathers up so high? He won't be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending, or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping." And God smiled and said, "Yes, but if I make him child-size, who would children have to look up to?"

    And when God made a Father's hands, they were large and sinewy. And the angel shook her head sadly and said, "Do you know what you're doing? Large hands are clumsy. They can't manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on pony tails or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats." And God smiled and said, "I know, but they're large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day...yet small enough to cup a child's face in his hands."

    And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders. And the angel nearly had a heart attack. "Boy, this is the end of the week, all right," she clucked. "Do you realize you just made a Father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?" And God smiled and said, "A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle, and hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus."

    God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had every seen when the angel could contain herself no longer. "That's not fair. Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?" And God smiled and said, "They'll work. You'll see. They'll support a small child who wants to ride a horse to Banbury Cross, or scare off mice at the summer cabin, or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill."

    God worked throughout the night, giving the Father few words, but a firm authoritative voice; eyes that saw everything, but remained calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an afterthought, he added tears. Then he turned to the angel and said, "Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a Mother?" The angel shuteth up.

    Erma Bombeck.

    In his men's seminar, David Simmons, a former cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, tells about his childhood home. His father, a military man, was extremely demanding, rarely saying a kind word, always pushing him with harsh criticism to do better. The father had decided that he would never permit his son to feel any satisfaction from his accomplishments, reminding him there were always new goals ahead. When Dave was a little boy, his dad gave him a bicycle, unassembled, with the command that he put it together. After Dave struggled to the point of tears with the difficult instructions and many parts, his father said, "I knew you couldn't do it." Then he assembled it for him. When Dave played football in high school, his father was unrelenting in his criticisms. In the backyard of his home, after every game, his dad would go over every play and point out Dave's errors. "Most boys got butterflies in the stomach before the game; I got them afterwards. Facing my father was more stressful than facing any opposing team." By the time he entered college, Dave hated his father and his harsh discipline. He chose to play football at the University of Georgia because its campus was further from home than any school that offered him a scholarship. After college, he became the second round draft pick of the St. Louis cardinal's professional football club. Joe Namath (who later signed with the New York Jets), was the club's first round pick that year. "Excited, "I telephoned my father to tell him the good news. He said, 'How does it feel to be second?'"

     Despite the hateful feelings he had for his father, Dave began to build a bridge to his dad. Christ had come into his life during college years, and it was God's love that made him turn to his father. During visits home he stimulated conversation with him and listened with interest to what his father had to say. He learned for the first time what his grandfather had been like--a tough lumberjack known for his quick temper. Once he destroyed a pickup truck with a sledgehammer because it wouldn't start, and he often beat his son. This new awareness affected Dave dramatically. "Knowing about my father's upbringing not only made me more sympathetic for him, but it helped me see that, under the circumstances, he might have done much worse. By the time he died, I can honestly say we were friends."

    Charles Sell, Unfinished Business, Multnomah, 1989, p. 171ff.

    Commentary & Devotional

    I am going to read a quote to you first and then tell you who said it: A small child waits with impatience the arrival home of a parent. She wishes to relate some sandbox experience. She is excited to share the thrill that she has known that day. The time comes; the parent arrives. Beaten down by the stresses of the workplace the parent often replies: “Not know, honey, I’m busy, go watch television.” The most often spoken words in the American household today are the words: go watch television. If not now, when? Later. But later never comes for many and the parent fails to communicate at the very earliest of ages. We give her designer clothes and computer toys, but we do not give her what she wants the most, which is our time. Now, she is fifteen and has a glassy look in her eyes. Honey, do we need to sit down and talk? Too late. Love has passed by.

    The person who wrote these words was Robert Keeshan, better known to America as Captain Kangaroo.

    Sermon Illustrations, 1999.

    12 Practical Ways for Men to Impact Fatherless Kids:

    1. Be a mentor to a boy without a father through Big Brother or some other agency
    2. Contact your local junior or senior high school to tutor a needy kid
    3. Teach Sunday School
    4. Become a leader in Awana, Pioneer Clubs, or Adventure Club
    5. Meet one-on-one weekly, with a boy in your church or neighborhood who doesn't have a father in the home
    6. Become a leader in Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts
    7. Coach Little League or some other sport
    8. Volunteer to work with needy kids in an inner city ministry
    9. Hire a potentially "at risk" kid for yard work or in your business
    10. Become active youth leaders in your local church or a parachurch organization
    11. Start a church-based sports league that reaches out to needy kids in the community
    12. Lead a Bible study in a juvenile detention center or group home

    June 1996 issue of The Standard (pp 20-23), published by the Baptist General Conference, 2002 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL.

    William Bennett put is succinctly in a 1986 speech on the family in Chicago when he asked, "Where are the fathers? ... Generally, the mothers are there struggling. For nine out of ten children in single parent homes, the father is the one who isn't there. One-fifth of all American children live in homes without fathers ... Where are the fathers? Where are the men? Wherever they are, this much is clear: too many are not with their children.

    J. Dobson and G. Bauer, Children at Risk Word, 1990, p. 167.

    A positive and continuous relationship to one's father has been found to be associated with a good self-concept, higher self- esteem, higher self-confidence in personal and social interaction, higher moral maturity, reduced rates of unwed teen pregnancy, greater internal control and higher career aspirations. Fathers who are affectionate, nurturing and actively involved in child-rearing are more likely to have well- adjusted children.

    Dr. George Rekers, Homemade, vol. 11, no. 1.

    An Open Letter to Family Men: She was blond and beautiful, with azure eyes and a tumble of tawny curls. At three years of age, she would climb into her daddy's lap, snuggle up with a wide, satisfied smile, and purr, "This is my safe place!" And so it was. Dads, husbands, YOU are the "safe place." You are our protector and provider. And when you gather us for a time with God, we need a safe place. A safe place, not a lecture. A safe place, not a sermon. A very human dad/husband who simply cares about God and us. We don't need or even want a "spiritual giant." We just want you. And we need a gathering time (phone unplugged) where it's safe to say to each other, "How are you and the Lord getting along?" "How can we pray today?" We need a safe place to cry laugh, sing, rejoice, challenge, share, and sometimes not to share and have it be okay. We need a time with you that's relaxed--unstiff, when we can pray honestly, in simple sentences, from our hearts. Unfixed. Unrigid. Unroutine. Unshackled. We need a place where irregular opinions are respected, and where God has the last word. We need a gentleman leader, not a general. Gracious. Relaxed. Human. A family shepherd who exhibits not infallible authority, but a thirst for God. Every day? Not necessarily. Often? Yes. Long? No. Where? Anywhere. How? Sense where we're at, and zero in. We may need heavy-duty confessing to each other and to God...silent prayer...exuberant praise (try sing-a- long tapes)...Bible study. But not every time. Thanks for listening, Dad (Husband). Remember, we need you. Your family. 

    Linda Anderson,  Daily Bread, 1989.

    The assumption that boys learn to be masculine by following the example of their fathers is a myth, according to Dr. James Turnbull, a psychiatrist at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Fathers in middle-and lower-income families spend only about 25 minutes each week in direct one-to-one relationships with their growing sons. "The images on TV and in advertising showing boys and their fathers playing touch football, fishing and building model aircraft...simply don't reflect real life," said Turnbull. Turnbull's studies of fatherless homes in middle to lower-income brackets found the key to personality development was based upon the sons' relationships with their mothers. "Fathers are certainly important in shaping their son's behavior, but mothers, peer groups and other adult males usually have more contact with the boys," he said. "If a father is present, he tends to modify the mother's influence with comments such as 'You're spoiling the boy,' or 'Boys don't play with dolls' and other reactions to behavior. The father's treatment of the mother serves as an example for the son of how to interact with members of the opposite sex." In fatherless homes, Turnbull said, the mother's attitude toward men and her degree of protection toward her son seem to be keys to a boy's development. The most critical times are between the ages of 30 months and 5 years and during early adolescence.

    James Turnbull, Encounter, Vol 15, #3, February, 1980.

    We are finding that both men and women get their basic religious style, trusting or paranoid, regardless of creed, from their fathers. And you can guess what the decisive variable is--it's whether things were pretty good between their parents, whether the father trusted the mother. So a failure in one generation starts a cycle of paranoia down through the generations to come.

    Father Andrew Greeley, Psychology Today, quoted in His, Jan, 1977.

    Well-trained is the son who can hang onto his father's words as well as he can a flyball (Prov 4:4).
    Happy will be the child who cries because his dad loves him (Prov 10:12)
    A wise father hates sin in order to love his son.
    A good father shows the value of a book as well as a buck.
    The dad who wonders how much of a teacher he needs to be would do well to go to the school of Solomon.
    The man who finds a good woman should show his son how to avoid a bad one (Prov 2,5,6,7,9).
    What a father knows about sex might help his children as much as surprise them (Prov 23:26-8).
    A wise son makes a glad dad as much as a foolish one makes a glum mum (Prov 10:1).
    Thank God for Fathers who not only gave us life but taught us what to do with it.
    If you're amazed at how hard your dad can make it for you, try it without him (Prov 15:5).
    Double whammy; foolish son and contentious mammy (Prov 19:13).

    M.R. De Haan II.

    How Does a Father Do It?

    Finding the right balance between the work place and home front can be a guilt trip, but it doesn't have to be that way. Look over the list of possible improvements you can make in the way you balance career and family. But instead of viewing this as one more long list of things to do, imagine yourself already doing something on the list. The mind doesn't distinguish between imagined and real success when it draws upon positive experiences, even imaginary ones, to reinforce good habits-in-the-making. Try imagining yourself combining work and family life in the ways listed below.

    - Keep it simple. It is doesn't add to the happiness of your family, then change it.
    - Set aside time after dinner to help your kids with their homework.
    - Remember what you were like as a kid, and cut some slack for your kids. Keep important things in focus: family unity, values, fun and education.
    - Listen at all times: to mealtime stories, to the chatter over dishwashing, to bedtime prayers.
    - Create family rituals: Saturday morning pancakes, Sunday night pizza, Monday night health club, Thursday night piano recital.
    - Include children in your planning and decision-making regarding things like weekly chore assignments, summer vacation plans and special monthly events.
    - Hold family councils once a month to discuss pet peeves, rules, rewards and punishments.
    - Be both loving and firm in setting, negotiating and enforcing rules.
    - Let the answering machine take calls during the dinner hour and at bedtime. Or, take the phone off the hook.
    - Loves isn't something you buy. Your kids spell it T-I-M-E and it costs more than M-O-N-E-Y.
    - It's better to play 15 or 20 minutes spontaneously and have fun, then go do chores, work or other priorities, than to spend all day at the zoo (or ballgame or the mall) feeling angry, guilty, or worried.
    - Find one common mission or cause that your family loves to do together, instead of splintering your volunteer activities in several different directions.

    This partial list was gleaned from "How Does a Mother Do It?" That's the title of a brochure published by Mars Candy that compiles tips for Working Mother of the Year. We've adapted it. More importantly, what do you believe--and do--about this delicate balancing act?

    James Dobson, On the Father Front, Spring, 1994, p. 2.

    "Becoming husbands and fathers is the universal prescription of human societies for the socialization of the male. It is how societies link male aggression, energy, purpose--maleness--to a pro-social purpose. The most important predictor of criminal behavior is not race, not income, not religious affiliation. It's a father absence. It's boys who grow up without their fathers." David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values.

    "Is it possible to reconnect fathers to their children? To reverse societal trends that produced the separation in the first place? To fashion government policies and reshape attitudes regarding fathers themselves? Probably. But not until we reconvince ourselves of what used to be common sense: Children need their fathers." William Rasberry, syndicated columnist for the Washington Post.

    "Men have to be persuaded that bringing up children is a very important part of their life. Motherhood has been praised to the skies, but the greatest praise men can give to that role is for them to share in doing it." Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

    "Our very survival as a nation will depend on the presence or absence of masculine leadership in the home." Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family.

    James Dobson, On the Father Front, Spring, 1994, p. 2.

    Father's Favorite Sayings:

    The man on the top of the mountain didn't fall there. Joe Kosanovic's Dad
    Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. Rich Constand's Dad
    Marry a big woman; someone to give you shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. Bill Bodin's Dad
    An excuse is a poor patch for the garment of failure. Bruce Ley's Dad
    Never try to catch two frogs with one hand. Rea Hunt's Dad
    Always throw away the box when you take the last piece of candy. Paul Whalen's Dad
    Honesty is like a trail, once you get off it you realize you are lost. Mark Young's Dad
    Remember who you are and where you came from. Thomas Leone's Dad
    Wherever you are in life, first make friends with the cook. Bill Lewis's Dad
    Don't shake the tree too hard, you never know what might fall out. Timothy Davis's Dad
    A closed mouth gathers no feet. John Beard Jr's Dad
    Measure twice, cut once. Sandra Schultz's Dad
    The second time you get kicked in the head by a mule it's not a learning experience. Ebb Dozier Jr's Dad
    Never buy anything that eats. Neal Bashor's Dad
    You need to do what you have to do before you can do what you want to do. Reed Caster's Dad
    Well, you know what happens when you wrestle with pigs, you get all dirty and they love it. Dennie Morgan's Dad
    This is a democratic family; everyone gets a vote and I get five. Carolee Wende's Dad
    I but you books and buy you books and all you do is read the covers. Kelley Blaner's Dad
    If you're afraid to go too far, you will never go far enough. Kasey Warner's Dad
    If you don't need it, don't buy it. Nicholas Pieroni's Dad
    Selling is just like shaving, if you don't do it every day you're a bum. Mark Johnson's Dad
    If this is the worst thing that happens to you in life, don't worry about it. John Taylor's Dad
    Never be so broke that you cannot afford to pay attention. Michael Brose's Dad
    You live to work, you work to live, but if you work to work I hope you don't live by me. Cole Thurman's Dad
    If it is to be, it's up to me. Jeff Wilson's Dad
    Successful people make a habit of doing things that failures don't like to do. Charles H. Deal, Jr's Dad
    Don't let your studies interfere with your education. Eber Smith's Dad
    Don't be foolish just because you know how to. Maynard Alfstad's Dad
    Marry your best friend. Patrice Altenhofen's Dad
    Peer pressure is a crack in the armor of your own conviction. Peter W. Troy's Dad
    Knowing what's right from wrong is education, doing what's right is execution. The latter is the hard part. Bambi Troy's Dad
    The difference always is attitude. Suzie Slater'd Dad
    You have to eat an elephant in small bites. John Burke's Dad
    The one who quits last--wins. Paul Gesl's Dad
    Potential means you haven't done your best yet. Melissa and Nicholas West's Dad
    Do you know what happened when I found out all the answers? They changed all the questions. Carmella Leone's Dad
    The golden rule: the guy who's got the gold makes the rules. Paul Wagner's Dad
    If everybody else is doing it, it is probably wrong.

    Karl K. Warner, "Dad," U.S.A. Today, Monday, June 15, p. 11c.


    At the beginning of this decade (the 90's) David Popenoe wrote an article entitled “A World Without Fathers.” He gave some rather depressing statistics then: In just three decades, from 1960-1990, the percentage of children living apart for their biological father has more than doubled, from 17% to 36%. It is now estimated that by the turn of the century, 50% of all American children may go to bed at night without being able to speak to their father.

    So how are we doing? I am sad to say that I found at least one source which confirmed David Popenoe's prediction.

    In an article entitled "Fathering Fatherless America" Dr. Scott J. Larson reports: One in two children now grow up without a father in the United States, and in our inner cities only one in five children live with their father. A whole new mission field has developed in America: Fathering fatherless kids.

    Perhaps the most relevant missionary challenge for our society was penned by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father. (I Cor. 4:15 NIV) Paul knew that these people didn't need another teacher, their needs were much deeper, they needed a father. One can't be a father to very many, but Paul knew that God was calling him to be a father to some people in Corinth.

    Brett Blair, Sermon Illustrations, 1999.

    The lack of attentiveness to children's needs by fathers has produced great changes in the American home. Fathers spend an average of only 38 seconds a day being totally attentive and 20 minutes being partially attentive to their children's needs. Associated with these changes are the rising teen-age suicide rate, which has tripled in the last 20 years, and the increasing incidence of delinquent behavior, which will bring one of nine adolescents in the U.S. into a courtroom this year.

    Dr. Seymour Diamond, M.D., in Homemade, October, 1982. 

    James Dobson cited a Cornell University study showing that fathers of preschool children on the average spend 37.7 seconds per day in real contact with their youngsters. In contrast, the study indicated that children watch television approximately 54 hours per week.

    Christianity Today, March 23, 1979.

    Josh McDowell has been trying to find out what dads are doing in Christian families, and the news isn't good. In his book The Dad Difference, McDowell reveals that there seems to be a parenting gap. These statistics are from McDowell's book: The average teen in our churches spends only 2 minutes a day in meaningful dialogue with his dad. 25% of these teens say they have never had a meaningful conversation with their father--a talk centered on the teens' interests.

    Josh McDowell, The Dad Difference.

    One startling bit of research conducted by the Christian Business Men's Committee found the following: When the father is an active believer, there is about a seventy-five percent likelihood that the children will also become active believers. But if only the mother is a believer, this likelihood is dramatically reduced to fifteen percent.

    Keith Meyering, Discipleship Journal, issue #49, p. 41.

    Armand Nicholi, of Harvard University, found that American parents spend less time with their children than parents in any other country except Great Britain. Even compared with their Russian counterparts, American fathers spend two fewer hours a day interacting with their children.

    The Washington Post, July 21, 1993, p. E13.

    Studies show that the absence of the father expresses itself in male children in two very different ways: it is linked to increased aggressiveness on one hand, and greater manifestations of effeminacy on the other. A 1987 study of violent rapists found that 60 percent of them came from single-parent homes. A Michigan State University study of adolescents who committed homicides found that 75 percent of them were from broken homes. Girls without fathers fare no better. They become sexually active sooner and are more likely to have out-of-wedlock children.

    J. Dobson & G. Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 167-168.


    Two first graders were overheard as they left Sunday School class, "Do you really believe all that stuff about the devil?" "No, I think it's like Santa Claus. It's really your dad."



    A dad is a mender of toys,
    A leader of boys.
    He's a changer of fuses,
    A healer of bruises
    He's a mover of couches,
    A soother of ouches.
    He's a pounder of nails,
    A teller of tales.
    He's a dryer of dishes,
    A fulfiller of wishes
    Bless him, O Lord.

    Jo Ann Heidbreder.

    His shoulders are a little bent,
    His youthful force a trifle spent,
    But he's the finest man I know,
    With heart of gold and hair of snow.
    He's seldom cross and never mean;
    He's always been so good and clean;
    I only hope I'll always be
    As kind to him as he's to me.
    Sometimes he's tired and seems forlorn,
    His happy face is lined and worn;
    Yet he can smile when things are bad:
    That's why I like my gray-haired dad.
    He doesn't ask the world for much--
    Just comfort, friendliness, and such;
    But from the things I've heard him say,
    I know it's up to me to pay
    For all the deeds he's done for me
    Since I sat rocking on his knee;
    Oh, not in dollars, dimes, or cents--
    That's not a father's recompense;
    Nor does he worship wealth and fame--
    He'd have me honor Jesus' name.


    He teaches kindness by being thoughtful and gracious even at home.
    He teaches patience by being gentle and understanding over and over.
    He teacher honesty by keeping his promises to his family even when it costs.
    He teaches courage by living unafraid with faith, in all circumstances.
    He teaches justice by being fair and dealing equally with everyone.
    He teaches obedience to God's Word by precept and example as he reads and prays daily with his family.
    He teaches love for God and His Church as he takes his family regularly to all the services.
    His steps are important because others follow.