Men of God: The Father as a nurturer

By 11:21 AM

The Father as a nurturer.

It is a well-known fact that any man can father a child, but not every man with a child is truly a father. All we have to do is check the statistics that show so many one parent families, with men abandoning their paternal responsibilities. Then there are the testimonies of so many scared young people whose father was physically present as a material provider, but did not know or failed to be an emotional provider for their children. But there are many conscientious and committed fathers who are doing their best in these areas. So it goes to say that fathers are central to the emotional well-being of their children.

According to Dr. Gail Gross, “studies show that if a child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to the child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement as well as spiritual, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity.” Wow! That’s a lot that rests on the shoulder of a father.

The child’s primary relationship with his/her father can affect all of the child’s relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, lovers, and spouses. Those early patterns of interaction with the father are the very patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships...forever: not only the child’s intrinsic idea of who he/she is as he/she relates to others, but also, the range of what the child considers acceptable and loving. This is the nurturing aspect of fatherhood.

It is somewhat frightening how so much of the child’s future behavior is based on the model of the father, as well as the mother. There are some exceptions, but the norm is clear. Don’t we reflect this when we say both positively or negatively: “You are just like your father.” Or we say, “The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

So, if the father is one who treats his wife abusively or with deep respect, what have the children learned in treating their spouses? If the father is present to their children or absent by intention, what does that say to the children about how important they are to the father?

Dr. Gail goes on to affirm. “Children, who are well-bonded and loved by involved fathers, tend to have less behavioral problems, and are somewhat inoculated against alcohol and drug abuse. Yet when fathers are less engaged, children are more likely to drop out of school earlier, and to exhibit more problems in behavior and substance abuse.”

Men must step up to the plate. Uninvolved fathers need to become more involved in the lives of their children. Already involved fathers need to continue and deepen the nurturing of their children. It is a matter of emotionally bankrupt children or healthy, mature children who will continue the pattern in their own families.

How much quality time do you invest in and with your children? How often do you affirm them for who they are and not for what they do? Is your love demonstrative and tangible?


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