Involved Fathers Really Are a Big Part of the Answer
Much has been written and said about the tragic, racially-charged events that have taken place in Ferguson, New York and elsewhere. And a lot of what I’ve heard and read makes me feel like we’re looking for Band-Aids to put on wounds that require surgery.
Or, maybe more accurately, it’s like putting ointment on a man’s chest for his heart disease, when what he really needs is a total lifestyle change—diet, exercise, daily habits, and so on. Similarly, what we need in our country is a total lifestyle change.
I believe these tragedies are symptoms of a much greater problem, and it’s all about that phrase we quote so often from the man whose life we celebrate, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We know that he dreamed of a time and place where his children “will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
In today’s world, more and more people do not have the character to respond positively in heated, potentially dangerous situations—or the foresight to avoid those situations in the first place. For a whole host of reasons, not enough children today are growing up with strong character.
Here at NCF, we believe that fathers are a big part of that lifestyle change that today’s culture needs so desperately.
Dads can play a huge role in shaping their children’s character directly—helping them develop virtues that will serve them well. Moms, coaches, and other role models can do this, too. But I believe a highly engaged father or father figure has a unique ability to also give his children less tangible qualities that enable them to live out those virtues. Very often, those kids have a sense of confidence, security, poise, a sense of purpose—which are too often missing in fatherless kids. (And often they don’t even realize what they’re missing.)
When fathers are just there, loving their kids, being patient, listening, engaging them, it makes a huge difference. My youngest son Chance is a teenager, and no matter how weird things get for him, Daddy’s here for him. No matter what happens in his life, I’m still his daddy. When his friends aren’t coming around to talk, his daddy is. And as his daddy, I’m trying to use my involvement and my influence to shape his character and make sure he’s ready to show poise in any and every situation.
Will Chance be perfect? No way. No child ever will. But I’m doing all I can to increase the odds that he continues to make good decisions and not bad ones.
Dads, we really are a big part of the answer. As we all use our influence and prepare our children to deal with life, together we can bring about a lasting lifestyle change for this ailing country.
Here’s another appropriate word picture from Dr. King in one of his less-famous speeches: Together, “we will be able to go on in the days ahead and transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood” (June 23, 1963, Detroit).
Dads, it’s urgent that we do our best for our children and the generations to come.
• Ask your child what he or she has heard about the Ferguson and New York events. Listen to their ideas and what they think the ultimate answer is.
• Tell your child, “I’m your daddy, and I’ll always be here for you.”
• Take your kids with you to a local event that celebrates the life of Dr. King, and then discuss what you saw and heard.
Written by Carey Casey
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