Q&A: A Father's Presence

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Being the father our children need requires courage, not perfection.

Does my presence as a father really make a difference in my son's life?

Dennis: Yes it does. In fact, a father's involvement in the family is a key social issue today. It's a much bigger deal than, for example, the national debt. The major problems America is facing aren’t all in Washington, D.C.

What a boy can use, and too often doesn't have, are the heart of his father and the fellowship of men. A boy needs at least one man who pays attention to him, spends time with him, and admires him. A boy needs a role model, a man whom he can regard as a mentor.

From firsthand experience I can tell you how easy it is for dads to be selfish. I know how much I struggled against putting my own desires ahead of what my children needed from me. I had a choice to make each and every day. I would have much preferred to have gone home from work and read my newspaper, put my feet up, watched television, and not interacted with them at all. By doing that I not only would have missed their recitals, sports events, and PTA meetings, but I also would have missed out on them—what they value, where they were struggling, or in what areas they had received the blessing of having made a right choice.

Being the fathers that our children need requires courage, not perfection. We can't be perfect dads. But what can we do? We have to learn how to reserve energy so that we don't come home from work so emotionally exhausted that we have nothing left for our kids. We can choose not to bend to selfishness, but instead say "yes" to the next generation.

The question you need to ask yourself is, "Am I present not just physically but emotionally, relationally, and spiritually? Am I there with my kids?" Throughout your life you will answer these questions differently depending on how old your kids are, what's happening with your career, and what's going on with your marriage. These are good questions to ask from time to time. Are you asking them?

Written by Dennis and Barbara Rainey

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