GENDUSA COLUMN: The importance of fatherhood

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, June 14, 2023

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“Lynn, I don’t know how to be a good father because my father was unable to show me how.” I will never forget Dad sharing this with me after a dispute we had years ago.

Ray Walker’s father died when he was only 5 years old, leaving him no recollection of his dad. According to photographs, he bore a striking resemblance to his father, but besides what his older brother told him, there is no memory. All the parental duties for Dad and his three siblings fell on his mother, Rose. What a strong woman she was to endure the Great Depression, World War II, and a myriad of jobs.

Dad flourished under his mother’s watchful, caring eyes, but loss always leaves scars. Yet, my father understood how to be a good parent because his mother showed him the way. We all can become exceptional parents through love, being responsible, providing discipline, and sharing quality time.

However, love requires duty, patience, understanding, and providing a child with the knowledge that we will never abandon them. Being a loving father is staying with your children whether you live with them or not. When a father dies is far different than when one walks away. Death cannot be controlled, but leaving a child creates a never-ending aching heart and countless long-lasting issues.

Fatherhood is a gift; some incredible men understand such an enormous blessing. They worry, provide, teach, shelter, and care for their children.  These remarkable men need to form a committee of thousands to show others what being a present father means for their children and the world.

We are facing a heartbreaking pandemic of absent fathers, and it is affecting our daily lives. Countless studies have shown that children raised without a caring father are more prone to live in poverty, commit crimes, and face more psychological problems. 

When a parent forsakes a child, they should be jailed! Fathers who do not pay child support also abandon their children and leave nothing but hardship and disappointment behind. It is unsuitable for society to allow those who do not support their offspring to roam free. 

Communities of all races should race to find solutions to this epidemic.  Women who become mothers without a partner and are not financially capable of caring for a child need to read the stinging statistics. Our poor decisions can unfairly affect a child forever. To bring a child into the world is to care enough for another human being to make ourselves knowledgeable.

Every job requires training. Why do we not train to be accountable, successful parents when it is the most important task we will be given in our lives?

Community leaders, mentors, churches, and education are needed to stem this far-reaching, heartbreaking pandemic.

My father learned from his mother the importance of fatherhood. He witnessed the struggles she incurred both financially and emotionally. He knew how to become the best of fathers was to love his wife. Thus, my brother and I grew up with parents who laughed, loved, and enjoyed each other until their lives ended. How fortunate we were!

Charles Ketterling wrote, “Every father should remember one day his son will follow his example, not his advice.”

For a child to reach their purpose in life, it is to lead them with integrity, humbleness, courage, and discipline. Success as an adult is not about how much money we accumulate but how we earn the money deposited in the bank. Was it acquired through honesty, hard work, and honor? Dishonesty, bullying, and abuse are passed to the child who is watching.

The best memory of my grandfather, John, was that no matter how hard he worked at the lumber mill, he was dressed in his suit on Sunday morning.  His pocket watch tucked in his vest, a Bible in his hands, and we were off to Sunday School and church. I learned from my grandfather that God was the ruler of his home and the love of his life. Such an honorable, God-fearing man who raised wonderfully adoring, accomplished children.

He learned to be a shining example of the importance of fatherhood from the Lord himself.