After 26 years of ministry, a local pastor wrote that, “By far the most commonly recurring complaint I hear from married women is about phantom fathers who do not connect with their wives and children.”
Letter received from one wife
“The kids are in bed. There’s nothing on TV tonight. I ask my husband if he minds if I turn the tube off. He grunts. As I walk to the set my mind is racing. Maybe, just maybe, tonight we’ll talk. I mean have a conversation that consists of more than my usual question with his mumbled one-word answer, or, more accurately, no answer at all.
Silence – I live in a world with continuous noise but, between him and myself, silence. Please – oh God, let him open up. I initiate (once again; for the thousandth time). My heart pounds- oh, how can I word it this time? What can I say that will open the door to just talk? I don’t have to have a DEEP MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION. JUST SOMETHING!
As I open my mouth – he gets up and goes to the bedroom. The door closes behind him. The light showing under the door gives way to darkness. So does my hope. I sit alone on the couch. My heart begins to ache. I’m tired of being alone.
Hey, I’m married. I have been for years. Why do I sit alone? The sadness undergoes a change slowly – then with increased fervor I get mad. I AM MAD. I am sick and tired of living with a sissy. A wimp – a coward. You know, he’s afraid of me! Hostile, you say. You better believe it. I’m sick and tired of living in a world of passive men.
My two sons like sports. They’re pretty good. They could be a lot better if their Dad would take a little of his precious time and play catch with them. (I’m sorry, catch once a year at the church picnic doesn’t quite make the boys into great ball players.)
But Dad’s too busy. He’s at work. He’s at the health club. He’s riding his four-wheeler. He’s working on the car. He’s playing golf. He’s tired. He’s watching a video movie. So who plays catch with my boys? Me.
My husband says, “You shouldn’t be playing men’s sports.” So who’s going to do it? He says he will. But he doesn’t. Remember? He’s too busy satisfying himself, doing what he likes … So my poor sons have to be second-rate in sports. They could have been good. Really good. Yeah – I’m mad.
My daughter is a teenager. She likes boys. They notice her. They pay attention to her. She responds. I know what’s coming. I try to talk to her. But it’s not me she wants. It’s Dad. Yeah, Dad! If he’d just hug her, notice her, talk to her – just a little – she wouldn’t need those boys so much. But no … so she turns elsewhere for attention and love. And there’s nothing I can do.
A mom isn’t enough. Kids need a father. And not just a body, a passive, silent presence. And here’s the killer. My husbands father did the same number on him. Didn’t hug him. Didn’t take him to anything, let alone watch his baseball games. And he HATES his father. Now my husband’s doing the same thing. Will our sons grow up to be passive? Will they be cowards?”
It’s time to step up, grow up and be a good father!
Dysfunctional fathers are the cause of many family and social problems that beset American culture. On average, American fathers give each of their children a mere three minutes of undivided attention per day. This kind of phantom fatherhood is tragic. Dads, we must realize how vital our role is to the well-being of family and society.
Someone suggested that, “The notion of responsibility is at the crux of true fatherhood. The conscious sense of responsibility for the physical and spiritual well-being of others is the mark of a true father.”
The role for fathers
“Hear my Son, your Father’s instruction …” (Proverbs 1:8); “My son, observe the commandment of your Father …” (Proverbs 6:20); “Just as a Father has compassion on his children …” (Psalm 103:13-14). “The Lord disciplines those he loves even as a Father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12); “Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Some men mistakenly think that bringing home a weekly paycheck gives them a right to leave just about every responsibility in the home to their wives. Others are unwilling to give up their hobbies and toys to adjust to the needs of the family.
“Real men do not just make babies. Real men take responsibility for the physical and spiritual care of children they beget and for those begotten and deserted by others. Responsibility lies at the heart of fatherhood as it was intended to be” (Weldon Hardenbrook).
One of the greatest needs of our day is to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children so that, “the hearts of the children will turn back toward them” (Malachi 4:6).
How do we do this?
“…. if we see a dearth of fathers in the realm outside worship, we must not try to organize pro-fatherhood rallies in that same realm. It will not work. The need of the hour is to return to the worship of God the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and all conducted in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
“the fact that we live in fatherless times, reveals our attitudes toward God the Father. Father hunger is one of the chief symptoms of our idolatry. It is the basis for our political follies, our cultural follies, our technological follies, and so on. But the solution is not to schedule numerous family retreats. The solution is …. that men must seek to be Christians first. If they love Jesus Christ more than mother or father, or wife, or sons, or daughters, then they will be in fellowship with the source of all love. If they make an idol out of any one of their family members, then they are out of fellowship with the source of all love — meaning that the “idol” is short-changed. A man’s wife receives far more love when she is number 2 after God than she would if she were number 1. A man’s children will be fathered diligently when they are loved in the context of a much greater love” (from: Douglas Wilson, Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families).
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1).