I just want to start off by saying thank you to all the fathers out there. You guys are amazing and essential to your families. I’m sure there may be times when you feel inadequate or what you do as a father isn’t enough, but please know that you ARE enough and your families love you and are thankful for you. When times get tough keep your head up because you never know when one of your children or your wife will praise you for what you do and then look at you to say, “I LOVE YOU!” Those moments are what make everything worth it and will help you to get through those dark days or hard times.
Now, fathers have a special bond with their children. While it’s obvious I’m not a father, I can still say this because I watch my husband with our son and I can tell their bond is like nothing else in this world. It’s adorable to see them play and interact and it makes my heart happy to see the bond they have and the bond they will continue to create. I can also say that the bond my I share with my daddy is special and I’m so thankful for it. He is someone I will always look up to and adore. He will always be “daddy” and I will always be “funnyface.” (Yes, this has and always will be my nickname from him and I love it!)
It’s pretty obvious that fathers are important and we need to recognize them and the role they play in the family. I want to go through five different roles a father has in the family. Those roles are: to preside, to partner, to be present, to provide, and to protect.
First, to preside. President Ezra Taft Benson said,
“God established that fathers are to preside in the home. Fathers are to provide love, teach, and direct.”
A father is one one in the home that gets to lead both in spiritual and temporal things. They allow for order in the home and make it possible for children to learn and grow as they listen to and follow their father. Presiding does not mean being demanding and it definitely does not mean having all power in the house or feeling above the rest of the family. It means having a “spiritual or moral focus [that] provides an anchor that motivates their parental commitment and encourages generative care of their children.” Fathers who preside over their families focus on love and growth and they always want what is best for their families instead of themselves. Sean E. Brotherson said, “Fathers who embrace the principle that fathering means ‘to preside… in love and righteousness’ have an anchoring principle and a spiritual focus for their fathering efforts designed to bless the children and families they love.” Presiding over a family is necessary and important for order, growth, and love in the home.
Second, to partner. Fathers are to work close with their wives when it comes to raising their children. This allows for an equal feeling in their relationship as a couple and allows for their children to have good relationships with each of them as well. Brotherson goes on to say,
“The optimal environment for this fathering partnership to take place is a healthy marriage. Research indicates that a healthy, satisfying marriage is a fathering ‘force multiplier’ for men, which helps fathers to be more involved with their children, more confident in their parental skills, more satisfied in their paternal efforts, and more sensitive to the need of children.”
I find it interesting that a good and healthy marriage helps a father to be more involved with his children and more confident in the role he plays. This is important to note because if a father is struggling with his children then he should start to first work on his relationship with his wife. By doing that he will have an easier time with his children and connecting with them. Here are some “strategies for fathers and mothers in working together to raise children:”
- Maintain a positive emotional relationship.
- Appreciate each other.
- Offer instruction and accept help.
- Make parenting decisions together.
Each of those strategies will create a stronger bond between husbands and wives and will create a good environment for children to grow up in.
Third, to be present. This is a big one, especially in today’s world where technology plays a role in most everyone’s lives. I can only imagine how exhausting working a full time job and being a father can be. I’m sure there are days where the last thing a father want to do is come home after a long day and play with his children. However, it is important to do. Now I’m not saying this needs to be done every single day, but it is important to do to create those bonds with your children. Brotherson explains that, “In our understanding, to be present in fathering is to act on the obligation to be there for one’s children with your physical presence and availability; mental awareness and engagement, and practical involvement in their lives and activities.” Now going back to technology. It is easy to get sucked into our phones, games, social media, or anything to that nature, especially after a long day. Trust me I’m definitely guilty of this too, but it is necessary to be present and to not be behind a screen when our children need us. Again, I’m not saying to never use technology, but be aware of how much time you spend on it and how much time you spend with your children. Keep in mind to be present means “to be there (physical), to be aware (psychological), and to give care (practical).” If you feel that you are struggling in one or more of these areas try to set a goal to improve and follow through with those goals.
Fourth, to provide. I think this is what most people think of when asked what role a father plays in the family. Providing for their family is HUGE and I’m sure extremely stressful. It amazes me how hard fathers work to provide for their families. To provide is “to assume the stewardship of meeting children’s needs and offering opportunities for their development, as well as dedicating one’s time, energy, and resources for the benefit of the next generation.” Again, this is a big responsibility. I have been blessed with a father who works hard to provide for his family. He has been a great example and provider. I have also been blessed with a husband who works hard and has a great job to provide for our family. He never ceases to amaze me and I am so thankful for his willingness to work and provide. We have been incredibly blessed financially because of his willingness to work. Doctrine and Covenants 75:28 says,
“Verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lost his crown.”
Fathers are blessed for working and will continue to be blessed as they provide for their family. While providing is a stressful endeavor it is rewarded through our Heavenly Father, whether the blessings come immediately or not.
Fifth, to protect. Brotherson says, “Perhaps the most important aspect of protecting children occurs as fathers model appropriate and righteous behavior in their own actions and choices. A variety of protective benefits accrues to children as fathers behave well and model positive choices.” This is important because if a father isn’t able to take care of himself and make good choices how can he protect his children? Actions affect children so making good choices helps fathers to protect their children. Brotherson continues on and says, “Another important aspect of protecting children takes place as father mentor them to develop skills and knowledge needed for making their own wise choices in life.” I have been blessed to have a father who taught me so much and prepared me to live on my own and face what the world will throw at me. I believe it is essential for fathers to teach their children the things necessary to be successful and prepared for the world. Fathers should help teach and lead their children and make sure they aren’t making choices for their children because that will not help them to learn. This will obviously take time and patience, but it will be very beneficial.
I just want to end with what Brotherson ends his essay with. He says,
“Fathers have the ability, for good or ill, to exercise great power and influence in the lives of their children and families. Power alone, however, is not what a father truly needs, nor does he need only the ability to influence and direct a child’s life, thoughts, and feelings. A father needs the power to bless, which might be called ‘power in righteousness.’ Men do not bless by the mere exercise of power. They bless only by the exercise of power in righteousness.”
Fathers, keep up the good work and do not get discouraged if you feel you are lacking in some area or another. No one is perfect. You are great. You are needed. But most importantly, you are loved.