(ROCKWALL, TX — June 10, 2019) He’s been known to pull out a thick leather belt to warn misbehaving grandchildren. The kids, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, freeze in place for a few seconds before breaking into relieved smiles as they realize that Grandpa is “all bark and no bite.” But their parents—back in the day—did feel the sting of Dad’s disciplinary methods on occasion.
My husband is not the sentimental father and grandfather of Hallmark card commercials. Nor has he ever been the crude, clueless, or cowardly man represented in too many Father’s Day card displays. Jim was raised much like my own dad, with more discipline than our culture now approves. Their firm approach in parenting instilled in their children a healthy respect for authority.
Hooray for traditional fathers.
Today’s average dad is more involved with his children, beginning with changing diapers—a task men rarely accepted in the days of cloth and pins. Fathers might prepare a meal with their kids or drive the school carpool, exploring territories once exclusive to moms. But when it comes to child discipline, fathers have a less hands-on approach. The trend these days is to show more mercy: a time-out instead of a wooden paddle.
Hooray for contemporary fathers.
The best of fathers, like mothers, can flourish in one area of parenting but flounder in another. However, as men, they bring a unique quality to childrearing since they’re generally stronger and more courageous than women. Dad is likely the one who would both move the washing machine and look beneath it for a snake that got into the laundry room (eye-witness experience speaking here).
Fathers offer their children a male perspective that balances a woman’s different way of seeing and reacting to circumstances. Yet masculinity has taken hits in the modern world. It’s not enough that Dad can fill in for Mom to satisfy the more progressive among us; our culture seems to think parenting roles should be equal and interchangeable.
In his book 7 Men—and the Secret of Their Greatness, Eric Metaxas says, “The idea of manhood has fallen into some confusion in the last decades…. Since the father has traditionally been seen as the leader of the family, it only follows that if we’ve taken the very idea of authority down, we’ve taken fatherhood down with it.”
Though Metaxas says it’s wrong to think that men need to be macho, he says it’s also wrong “to pretend that there is no real difference between men and women… [that] being strong isn’t even a good thing.”
Fathers bear the title and, by nature, the characteristics of our Father in Heaven: provider and protector. The Apostle Paul wrote that “in Christ” men and women are equal children of God (Galatians 3:28), yet husbands are assigned the role of “the head” of the wife (Ephesians 5:23) and charged to discipline and instruct, without provoking, their children (Ephesians 6:4).
The importance of a father’s role is well illustrated by a prison chaplain’s lament that inmates annually request Mother’s Day cards for sending but show little need for Father’s Day cards.
The reality is that too many children now grow up without a father in the home. But though earthly fathers sometimes fail their children, our Father in Heaven offers love, discipline, and mercy to those who become reconciled to him through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18). The fatherless and the less fathered of this world find value as chosen sons and daughters of God (1 John 3:1) and will share in his glorious inheritance.
Hooray for the Perfect Father.
By Patti Richter. Patti writes and edits Christian faith articles and has co-authored Signs of His Presence: Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering (March 2019). Read more of her essays at blueribbonnews.com/category/faith.
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