The Value of Being a Good Father
Fathering (and mothering) establishes a standard in the mind of the child that is based on Love and Principle. This standard of righteous living then guides the child in daily actions and decision-making.
In celebrating parenthood, we honor the steady persistence and daily nurturing and love of all parents. But knowing how much planning and preparation a parent does is hard to quantify. One perspective is that more thought is given to it in hindsight than in foresight. Maybe that is why Solomon's first proverb is: "A wise son maketh a glad father" (Proverbs 10:1).
Two views of this proverb might be:
- A son who learns the wisdom of his father is glad and passes on this wisdom to his own son.
- A father is happy if his son has learned the wisdom he taught.
Both views alert us to the value of being a good father. I have found that the perspective of a grandfather adds an even deeper conviction and dimension to the necessity and value of being a good father.
So, what does make a good father? Another of Solomon's proverbs points to an answer. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Fathering and mothering — when done with compassion, consistency, conviction, by example, by sharing, by exploring with the goal of honoring, God and by doing unto others as you would have them do unto you — establishes a standard in the mind of the child that is based on Love and Principle. This standard of righteous living then guides the child in daily actions and decision-making. Then when the child leaves home and becomes the parent, the child is unlikely to depart from the morals learned.
My answers to "What makes a good father?" and "What have I learned from being a father and a grandfather?" may not be proverbs, but they are nonetheless from the heart:
- Recognizing that a child is God's gift to us — not someone we created — develops a state of mind that fosters a caring, sensitive father-child relationship. In this state of mind, our interactions with our children help them develop self-esteem, moral fiber, and a desire to express the talents God has given them. And being a father is a joyous sharing time!
- Doing things as a family, sharing responsibilities, rewards, and desires, develops a bond that lasts and builds character that the world needs. Some of the activities I remember are: reading comics in bed together, going to church together, being sent to buy the groceries at the neighborhood market, family vacations that explored the wonders, beauties, history, and value of the United States of America, my father playing baseball with us and all the neighborhood children, eating meals together and sharing the events of the day at the table, visiting grandparents with cousins, aunts, and uncles on weekends and holidays, and starting and ending each day with prayer.
- Giving children opportunities to explore, to perform meaningful tasks on their own, and learn from the results develops their confidence and desire to be positive and productive individuals in society. Exploring and learning are important in all stages of their development. Of course, the safety of the children must always have a high priority. Meaningful tasks include learning words, numbers, and relationships between objects and people, as well as sharing household chores and taking on teenage jobs. Some of my teenage recollections are: mowing lawns and gardening for neighbors and selling magazines and delivering them. From my earnings, I once purchased a motorbike and was allowed to use it to travel to my aunt and uncle's house (about 35 miles away) to stay with them and help on their ranch.
- And last, but probably most important, the parents' motives, examples, and consistency are more effective and lasting than their words. Their words must match their examples. Their actions, motives, and examples must be consistent in expressing their understanding that their children are God's gift to them and to the world. In this sense, the parents' role is twofold: first, to enable the children to see and understand their God given talents and then to develop them to their full potential; second, to help the children understand that they are to share these talents with the world through their active participation in the world for the benefit of mankind. A good father and a good mother know that the need for their example never ends, and they love the continuous nature of being a parent.
Man, being "made in the image and likeness of God," has the opportunity, ability, and the occasion to continuously express the wisdom, compassion, and wonder of the divine Father-Mother God, his creator and source (Gen. 1:26). Reflecting the nature of our source makes us "good parents."