According to the latest figures available from the US Census Bureau, there are about 64.3 million fathers in the nation. For various reasons, including but not limited to divorce, military service, criminal conviction or drug/alcohol abuse, not all fathers are active in the lives of their children. Things are different from when you and I were growing up. The percentage of children living in father absent-homes has more than tripled in the past 40 years. One out of every three children, some 24 million kids in total, are growing up in a home without their father. Not that big a deal, right? I mean, a child has two parents, doesn’t she? They’ll adapt, won’t they? In a word – No. Research supports what the Bible claims (and we all know, in our hearts, to be true) about fatherhood.
Studies show that…
- Fathers who are active in their child’s life will have a tremendous effect on their child’s development— both mentally and socially. Having the experience of two involved parents adds variety and dimension to the child’s experience of the world.
- Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.
- Children who live absent from their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.
The Bible says that men should love their wives (Eph. 5:25) and provide for their children a positive role-model of Godliness (Eph. 6:4). When God describes the sort of relationship that He desires with us, He calls us His children and says that He is our Father. Jesus’ purpose on earth was to exhibit the Father’s great love for all creation (Jn. 3:16). We men are to embody and extend that love to our families. It’s a big job, men, and, as the statistics bear out, not all fathers are up to the task. That’s why some men are called to “double duty.”
A “double duty” dad is a father who has raised his children – they’re grown and away from home – yet he still finds time to invest himself into the life of a child. This is the guy who takes the time at church to engage in meaningful conversation with the boy who’s father doesn’t live at home any more. This is the guy who, just before he heads out to go fishing, calls the neighbor kid to see if he wants to come along too. This is the fellow who asks the single mother if there’s anything he can do to help her with “handy-man” projects around the house, and then he makes it fun for the older kids to help him get those projects done.
This Father’s Day that sort of “dad” is likely not to get a card. He’s probably not going to be singled out and honored in a church service, but that’s OK with him. He knows that he is storing up heavenly treasure, and he wouldn’t want it any other way.
How do I know about these “double duty” dads? I had one. I watched as my father taught a Sunday School class of young boys for years and years. I listened, at his funeral visitation, as grown men shared about the impact of that “double duty” dad upon their lives. I know firsthand how one can pour oneself into another life and make a real difference.
How about you? Are you a witness to the power of an awesome dad? If you’re a father, wouldn’t you like to be one who leaves a legacy? Even if, for the most part, you thought you were done with fathering, don’t you think you could spare an hour a month to make a “double duty” impact in the life of a child who desperately needs a Godly, male role-model?
Happy Father’s Day, Dads. Here’s praying that the first words that you hear in eternity are, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”