A monthly column by Vivienne Solomons who is a legal consultant who passionately believes that God wants His people to make a difference right where they are and to stand up for what is true and just. She is also passionate about encouraging young women to walk victoriously with God and she is engaged in a challenging faith journey as a parent of a child with special needs.
Pappa, Pa, Father, Daddy, Dad … He may be known by different names, each one heavy with emotion, memories, meaning and expectation … both good and, dare I say it, sometimes not so good. I am aware, as you must be too, that much has been said in the media about there being a difference between being a ‘dad’ and being a ‘father’ and the fact that some fathers behave in such a way as to ‘not deserve’ the title ‘Dad’. Although there may be some value in the distinction, that is not the focus of what I write here today and as a result, I use the two words interchangeably.
Recently, we adopted a baby (who has very quickly grown into a talkative toddler) and as I have observed and experienced his being knitted into our family, I was reminded of something I had read a while ago:
Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story tellers, and singers of songs.
I noticed it when our first son was born as well. Something was stirred in my husband when he became a father for the first time, and now again. This does not mean he is perfect or without flaw. He is, after all, just an ordinary man. But it does allude to the fact that becoming a father (either biologically or through adoption) or assuming the role of ‘Dad’ in someone’s life (perhaps through marriage or another relationship) necessarily results in a change in the heart of a man. Whether and to what extent he rises to the challenge (and fatherhood can of course be challenging, just as motherhood can be) makes all the difference in the life of his child.
Various scientific studies have demonstrated the important role a dad plays in the well-being and success of a child, which I briefly mention below:
- Children with fathers are less likely to live in poverty.
- Children with fathers do better in school.
- Children without fathers are more likely to serve time in prison.
- Children with fathers are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
- Children without fathers are more likely to be sexually active as teenagers.
- Children without fathers are more likely to be obese.
- Children with fathers get more roughhousing (and roughhousing makes kids more resilient, smart, moral and socially adept).
- Children with fathers are more likely to have a larger vocabulary.
- Children with fathers are more likely to be encouraged to take healthy risks.
- Children with fathers gain many additional benefits to health and happiness (including less anxiety and fewer physical and mental symptoms under stress in young adulthood).
If you wish to read further in this regard, I refer you to https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-importance-of-fathers-according-to-science/.
Traditionally, much emphasis has been placed on the role a mother plays in the life of her child but clearly, there can be no denying the very powerful and critical influence that a dad has, not only on the development of his child but also on his child’s ability to navigate through life.
Unfortunately, whether by choice or by circumstance many children grow up without knowing their father and in these instances, the scientific findings highlighted above can be discouraging. To those of us who are so called single moms I would say, and indeed to us all, that we should not underestimate the importance of male mentors (for example, grandfathers, uncles, and brothers) in the lives of our children. For in the words of an African proverb, it takes a village (read: community) to raise a child.
This Father’s Day let us pray for and celebrate the dads amongst us, not only our own fathers and those who lovingly help us raise our own children but also those who live and work alongside us. Let us be an encouragement and support to all the dads we know.
Happy Father’s Day!