The Family Table

J. Wiley Adams

The family meal is an occasion that can help to unify the family. Memories of pleasant times around the table for me are very pronounced. This is true whether I look back to my own boyhood days or whether I consider the matter in terms of my own family, children and grandchildren.

I grew up in different times that included the great depression and World War II. Breakfast was a main event at our house. Everyone had to work and thus everyone needed to eat a substantial meal. Diets and various food restrictions were unheard of. We all worked so hard nobody in the family was “fat.” Everyone came to the table at meal time and no one dared say “I don’t like” this, that, or the other which was on the table. We could not afford to be “picky” about our food. Whatever was on the table you were glad to have it, and you asked for more. You knew it had to last until the next mealtime. Eating between meals was not a well known practice in those days.

Continue reading “The Family Table”

The Role of the Father

With all the mixed messages our society is propagating I worry the role of the father is being lost. Now more than ever the Lord’s church and society need men who will accept and rise to the challenge this role presents. Make no mistake about it, this role is a challenge. I hope and pray more members of the church will take this role seriously and apply the same diligence to being a good father as they do to be good employees. My fear is too many men see the home as only a place to relax after work rather than understanding their responsibilities to their wives and children require so much more then just their ability to provide financially.

The following excerpt is from a book I am reading regarding the role of fathers. I thought this author summarized some of these other responsibilities rather well.

How do we intentionally, deliberately, consistently, and adequately prepare our sons for life? Maybe you’ve seen the startling statistics. We know about the sons who have run amuck. We see young men all around us who are crumbling and caving in to drugs, illicit sexual relationships, homosexuality, and bisexuality. We see young men who don’t know how to accept direction or respond appropriately to authority. We wonder, How will my son make it in life? In his work? In his marriage? Will he be a strong Christian or a church dropout? Will he be a careless spender or a financial success? If we’re honest, we know that most men who blow it fall apart in one major area of their life. Maybe it’s a secret attraction to pornography, gambling that gets out of hand, or a bad temper. Whatever it is, it’s that one fatal flaw that goes unchecked or underestimated that eventually pulls a man down. The challenge of preparing a son to be a man of responsibility and integrity is great.

There are seven core issues that every father can work on with his son to lay a foundation of healthy masculine character. They are preparing our sons to be:

  • devout disciples of Christ;
  • good citizens;
  • holders of worthy vocations;
  • responsible workers;
  • choosers of good friends;
  • able to enjoy life;
  • sexually chaste; understanding of male sexuality; avoiding the hazards of pornography;
  • and lovers of their wives; supporters of their marriages.

(1)

Here are a few statistics regarding the “average” father:

  • Average father spends 6 min/day with each of his children
  • Of that only 35 seconds is dedicated time
  • Only 4 of every 10 children live with a father.

I understand most of us are above the average. However, I would bet almost all of us believe there is room for improvement in both the quantity and quality of the time that we spend training our children. My encouragement here is to put forth that effort and consider not only what you tell them, but what you show them.

“…I want my children to know I make mistakes, that I am foolish, proud, and often inconsistent. But I will not tolerate that as an excuse for my hypocrisy. I ask them to help me change as children should, and to expect me to help them change [using] the methods expected of a parent. Others may look to the under-30 crowd for the wisdom to throw away the past and to say what will remain for future generations; others may let the offspring in the house determine the foods, the music, and the spending of the household, but I am going to stay the father. “ – Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey has it right. I make mistakes, I am inconsistent, but I will not let that be an excuse to quit trying or to silence my admonition for doing what is right.

I wanted to conclude with the words of Moses given him by inspiration.

Moses finished speaking all these words to all Israel, and he said to them: “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe — all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess.” Deut. 32:45-47

Yes you will be exhausted at the end of the day and will not feel like you have anything else to give. It will not seem like your efforts are bearing fruit. In many ways a good father requires everything we have to give and then some. As long as we’re on this earth, our responsibilities remain. We are assured that our faithful efforts will bear fruit. Despite what society or child rearing “experts” may try to propagate, raising children who are well-adjusted, intelligent, requires a mother and father. These roles which require us to rise to the challenges is not a vain thing, and it is a wonderful life. – tdk June 2012


(1) O’Donnell, Michael (2011-10-01). What a Son Needs From His Dad: How a Man Prepares His Sons for Life (Kindle Locations 149-168). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.

Eulogy for Mom

In October 2000 a touching article appeared in the pages of truth magazine entitled “Eulogy for Mom”. I can only assume this was delivered by Lewis Willis at the funeral of his mother Wilhelmina Elizabeth Thompson Willis. With Mother’s Day approaching and some discourse occurring in the political arena regarding the value of stay-at-home moms, this piece is especially poignant. This article has several stories which tug at the heart strings, will make you smile, and remind us of the importance of this irreplaceable role both to the family and to society at large. there is a link at the bottom of this page to the entire article, which I will heartily recommend. In the interest of space, I had included some of the paragraphs below. – tdk Apr. 2012


…I thought for some time for a word or expression that would somewhat sum up the life of Mom. I finally settled on “family”; I think her family was the essence and substance of her life. Make absolutely no mistake about it, her first interest was God and the Church. But after that came her family. Anyone who knew her soon learned that her heart was centered on her children and grandchildren. Thus, I call to remembrance some memories about the Family.
Of course, the beginning of a family is the marriage. Mom and Dad had been happily married for 68 years when he died exactly one year ago to the day that Mom died, August 2. What an irony! She was never the same after Dad’s death. It is inevitable that such is the case. Two people who have been together so long do not function normally when one has gone. Theirs was a good marriage. If it experienced any major problems, I was never aware of them. Oh, there were the usual fusses and disagreements, but never did Dad abuse Mom in anyway, nor she him. She was the reason for his life! She loved and respected him, and they stood beside each other until the ravages of age separated them with his death. Mom’s failing health concerned him greatly and the changes brought by her decline he was never able to understand or accept. I am convinced that his confusion over nursing home living accelerated his death. You will remember he was hospitalized for the last time when, left alone the first night at a nursing home in Ft. Worth, he tried to get to Mom to comfort her in her distress. We would all have been surprised had he been indifferent toward her plight. But he never recovered from his anxiety over her condition.

There were times when discipline was required. Switches were the order of the day; she could use one better than most mothers. On a bare back, her switches seemed almost lethal. Psychologists and psychiatrists today, with all their psycho-babble, tell us how damaging discipline is for kids. However, I’ve now seen several generations of children who have been raised on their philosophy, and I prefer Mom’s child-raising philosophy more than theirs. I believe her approach worked better and I think my brothers and sisters share that same view. None of us was permanently damaged by her discipline.

…Mom’s love for the Lord and the church must also be remembered. She did something special which certainly none of us understood at the time. You see, until Cecil, and then Don, started preaching, Dad didn’t go to worship. She always took us to every worship . . . alone! I do not believe there was a family in the church more faithful than ours. During the critical, formative years of her children, she was determined they would know the Lord. That was the principle work of Mom. Dad was off somewhere else at worship time. He was usually working on one of his trucks all day, getting ready for Monday morning and his logging work.

The preaching of Mom’s sons has been far-reaching. In those days, she could never have imagined the impact her family would have on the church of the 20th and 21st centuries. From this small town of about 1000-1200 people, her boys have gone forth. We have preached in most parts of Texas, into many different places in Florida, Kentucky, Kansas, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Hawaii, Alaska, and Wisconsin. Probably other states as well. We have preached in Eastern and Western Canada, in the Philippines, in Israel, Germany, and in Greece. We have had opportunity to teach many more through religious journals we have edited, articles we have written for publication, church bulletins we have edited, radio teaching we have done, published debates we have conducted, and books and tracts we have written. Who would ever have dreamed that a Mother living in a small East Texas town might touch the lives of so many, in such distant places, as Mom did through her sons? She put us in a place to be taught the Truth, and was determined we would know how important it is to teach and defend it. It is a tribute to Mom, for without her direction, such would never have happened.

Eulogy for Mom

Family Bible Reading

(Deuteronomy 6:7; Psalm 78:5-7)

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. – Deut. 6:7

I am quite confident no one would disagree with the idea that reading the Bible to your family on a daily basis is a good thing. The question I wish to focus on is just why then don’t we do more of it? When reading the above passage in Deuteronomy and the referenced passage in Psalms, one cannot help but notice the diligence and consistency God was trying to impress upon His people. If we truly desire to raise godly children, we must be diligent and consistent in training our children. The basis for the spiritual education of our families should begin with families reading the Bible together.

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The Psychology of Fatherhood (I)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article appeared in the Sept. 1st, 1961 issue of Vital Speeches of the Day. It is the manuscript of a speech delivered to the Annual Meeting of the Maryland Council on Family Relations, Baltimore, Maryland, May 11, 1961, and to The Cadets of The Second Class, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado, May 14, 1961. The entire manuscript is too long to be included in one issue, so the last part of it will be published in next month’s issue. Readers of this journal will do well to carefully consider the remarks made by Dr. Brown.)

(Editor’s Note: This discussion concerned with the psychology of fatherhood has been divided into several sections as follows: First, how does one become a father? And what does it mean to be a father? Secondly, what are some of the problems of being an adequate father? Thirdly, why are fathers so necessary? And, fourth, some concluding thoughts).

How Does One Become a Father?

What Does It Mean to be a Father?

It is perfectly obvious that no particular talent is required for biological fatherhood. Just as there are few requirements for marriage in the first place, i.e., any male, 21 years of age with an IQ over 60, can usually get married; likewise practica11y no requirements exist for becoming a biological father. One unfortunate result of this is the fact that there are tens of thousands of marriages every year in which for the most part about the only contribution of the father to his offspring is that of a single sperm! Thus, there are some 200,000 illegitimate children born every year with no legal, and usually no psychological father. It has been estimated that in Germany alone, there are some 100, 000 illegitimate children born to GI “fathers.” Most of these children are in institutions and have been denied any semblance of normal family life. There are also hundreds of thousands of children who, while legitimate, are nevertheless unplanned for and unwanted, born to fathers, many of whom are essentially indifferent, openly rejecting, or psychologically non-existent as far as the child is concerned. In other words, these men are biological fathers only, i.e., in the really significant and meaningful sense of fatherhood, they are essentially or almost completely lacking. Now the question arises in this connection, should society not demand greater responsibility of fathers than this? Should not at least some minimal qualifications be established before fatherhood occurs?

As things stand now, for example, do we even suggest that, before becoming responsible for bringing another human being into the world, that a man consider what he has to offer this new life, how much he wants to be a father, whether he will shoulder his responsibility in nurturing and training and guiding this offspring so that he or she might grow up to live a useful and productive life? Just recently there was occasion to counsel a young couple who had known each other about ten days before getting married and, one month later, the wife was pregnant. This couple was seen a few months later and the wife was completely miserable in the marriage, openly rejected and hated the husband, referred to her unborn child as the “idiot,” etc., while the husband’s attitude was indifference and unconcern with the whole affair. Now it is sad enough to observe a marriage like this, but is it not much more tragic that a child will be born into this union? What chances for normal, healthy emotional development will a baby have who is born into this kind of marriage?

This problem of fatherhood apparently has its counterpart as far as motherhood is concerned. A recent survey conducted by Dr. Richard Masland of the National Institutes of Health, indicated that approximately one half of the pregnant women interviewed were not sure they wanted their babies. Dr. Masland told a congressional subcommittee that half the women questioned were not at all sure they really wanted to have a baby. This, of course, suggests that many women are simply not adequately prepared to have children. And since this present paper is concerned with fatherhood, the question might be asked, if only about half of the pregnant mothers were not sure they wanted their babies, how many of the fathers wanted them?

One of the problems in this process whereby an unwanted pregnancy and an unwanted child is born to a married couple, psychologically, emotionally, or economically unprepared for parenthood, is the failure to recognize that human sexuality has two essentially separate functions. One of these major functions is procreative, in which the goal is the reproduction of life, to bring a new life into existence, to have a child. The other basic function of sex in marriage is physical love in which the goal is marital pleasure, to increase closeness and intimacy between husband and wife, to provide sexual fulfillment in marriage. Unfortunately, there are many couples who never recognize or appreciate the basic difference of these two functions and, consequently, experience intense conflict and confusion. The father, of an unplanned, unwanted, rejected child is a psychological hazard and serious risk in terms of mental health and emotional well being of that child. Too many men become fathers through accident, ignorance, irresponsibilty, indifference, or unconcern.

Freud has expressed the essence of the twofold function of sex in marriage as follows:

It would be one of the greatest triumphs of mankind . . . were it possible to raise the responsible act of procreation to the level of a voluntary and intentional act, and to free it from its entanglement with an indispensable satisfaction of a natural desire.

Similarly, the theologian, Brunner, has observed that the Christian ethic must come to stand for the independent meaning of sexual pleasure in marriage as an expression of love, and not merely as a means of procreation.

Being an adequate psychological father requires a great deal more of a man than merely being a biological father. It requires love, acceptance, respect, of one’s offspring; it involves providing generous amounts of TLC, tender loving care. It involves being a worthy example; in involves living and not simply preaching the basic values of life such as honor, integrity, kindness, etc. Psychological fatherhood in other words is what really counts in the life of a little child, and older child, and adolescent. To be wanted, to be loved, to be respected, to be supported, to be guided, to be encouraged–these things are the things that a child needs from a father and has a right to expect from a father. Unfortunately, however, mere biological fatherhood in no way guarantees that these basic needs will be supplied. In fact, being an adequate psychological father is not even related necessarily to being a biological father. Thus, an adoptive father who warmly accepts and genuinely loves his adopted child may be immeasurably better than the child’s so called “real” father, i.e. the man who accidently or inadvertently supplied the sperm for conception. (“Biological” would be a better description than “real” father, since as already noted, many biological fathers are not “real” fathers at all!) Of course, in order to become an adoptive father, one must possess at least certain elementary qualifications, such as, sincerely wanting and desiring a child, having a minimum income, adequate housing, freedom from gross physical or mental illness, etc. No wonder, then, that many adoptive fathers are superior to many biological fathers who lack one or more of these requirements, especially the most important of all, that of wanting and desiring a child.

What Are Some of the Problems and Difficulties in “coming an Adequate Father?

Lack of Preparation. One of life’s most responsible and significant challenges, namely fatherhood, often involves no training or preparation whatsoever. To drive a car, one must pass certain tests and meet certain criteria that indicate at least minimum competence; however, to become a biological father, no requirements are considered necessary and, generally, none are required.

Despite the tremendous importance of father’s role in family life and in shaping the character and personalities of succeeding generations, the majority of our sons for example will enter the first grade and graduate twelve years later without so much as a single course in preparation for family living; in addition, only a very small percentage will have the opportunity to take course work in human psychology and human relations, despite the fact that this knowledge is related to all aspects of their life for the rest of their life. And, what we have just said about the lack of preparation for family living and parental responsibilities, applies to an even greater extent when it comes to sex education. There is probably not one high school in 500 that makes any effort at all to provide a straightforward, honest discussion of the facts of life, particularly the human facts of life.

And one consequence is abysmal ignorance among otherwise intelligent and educated people. So, we seem to assume that if our children are given sufficient quantities of English, history, mathematics, and science, somehow they will also be equipped for marriage and parenthood. The fact of the matter is, however, that there are multitudes of marital and parental failures and disturbed families, and it is reasonable to assume that some of the misery and unhappiness involved could have been prevented or lessened through proper preparation and education. In this connection, it is interesting to note that the United States Air Force Academy is one of the few institutions of higher learning that has a required course in marriage and the family. There is recognition here of the significance of family relations in a man’s future life, in this case, his future military life.

A second problem in becoming an adequate father is that of deficiencies in masculinity in general and in the husband role in particular.

In recent years, a number of writers have commented on the failure of many American men to function in the masculine role and in their inadequacy as husbands. There have been discussions of such topics as “The Crisis of American Masculinity,” “The Decline of the American Male,” “The Well kept Husband,” etc. By “Crisis of American Masculinity” is meant the apparent increase of inadequate, unmasculine males in our society; by “The Decline of the American Male,” is meant the loss by many husbands and fathers of the position as “head of the house,” the position having been taken over by the wife; and by “The Well-kept Husband,” is meant the emotionally immature, overly dependent husband who is cared for by his wife along with other children in the family. We arc talking here about boys who grow up as perfectly normal biological specimens of maleness, who are intelligent, and physically fit, but, here is where the difficulty comes, who are retarded in masculine adequacy, i.e., boys who have a deficiency in being able to shoulder the responsibility of mature masculine manhood. As examples, you may recall, Brick Pollitt, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Jimmy Porter in Look Back In Anger, i.e., young men incapable of mature love relationships with their wives, much less becoming adequate fathers, despite the fact that such men give every observable sign of being “verile” and “masculine.” A problem here seems to be that boys who suffer inadequate fathering themselves grow up to be inadequate fathers, thus, the pattern is repeated in succeeding generations. Boys who are smothered by mother and starved by fathers are not likely to grow up and become adequate as husbands or fathers. By and large, it seems that a man is much more likely to become an adequate father if he is secure in his own masculinity to begin with and if he is able to function effectively as a husband.

Still another problem that stands in the way of becoming an adequate father is what might be called pseudo-masculine notions. What kind of an image of masculinity do we hold up for our sons? In this connection, a recent check of 8 or 10 magazines for men (Man’s Life, Rugged Men, Stag, Male, Fury, Sir, Man’s Adventure, Battle Cry, etc.) showed that, without exception, the covers of every one of these so-called “men’s magazines” depicted some form of violence, brutality, or sadism. And the majority mixed in sex with cruelty, such as a woman in a cage with a big burly man lashing at her with a long whip, or another cover showing a woman tied down to a bed with a heavy rope and a sadistic, insane-looking man lurching above her and another equally repulsive male firing a gun. Is this masculinity? Someone has observed that too many husbands in marriage resemble an orangutan trying to play the violin!

Does masculinity for men mean, as the psychoanalyst, Josselyn, has suggested such things as: belittling and looking down on women as a group? making money and acquiring power? and denying feelings of tenderness, affection etc.? In connection with the belittling of women, some men have an attitude, toward their wives that may be characterized as one of, “well, after all, she is only a woman.” Now this idea, “only” may be appropriate when applied to a child, but certainly not to one-half of the adult human race that happens to be as bright and talented and capable as the other half. As one woman has put it, “When men belittle us, they belittle half of life, and they belittle their own happiness. To demean women is to demean love and relationship, and these are the two qualities in which civilization is very weak and which it greatly needs.” (From Scott-Maxwell, Women and Sometimes Men).

The idea that masculinity is proportional to the power over others or wealth that a man can acquire is a fallacy of the first magnitude. The fact that a man may be a great success in his business or profession in no way guarantees that he will be equally successful as a husband or as a father. The denial of feelings as a characteristic of masculinity, is related to the idea that feelings of affection, compassion, kindness, etc. are feminine and, hence unmanly. Many boys tend to be driven to harshness, crudeness, and destructiveness because they have somehow equated this with the ultimate repudiation of anything that resembles being “feminine,” This “taboo on tenderness” is probably part of the basis for many fathers not being affectionate and emotionally close to their children as they should be and as their children need them to be. Fathers should not be afraid to love their children openly and as generously as mothers; after all, a child’s psychological development depends on this as much as his physical development depends on vitamins and minerals.

Gorer, a British anthropologist, has observed that American males are the most sissy-conscious group of men on earth, i.e., they continually struggle against any implication that they are other than 100% super he-men! In lamenting this false notion of masculinity, Philip Wylie has concluded that it is “about time to abandon the idiotic notion that sensitiveness is the same as sissiness.” What we are saying quite simply here is that these false notions about masculinity create problems in helping boys to grow up to become adequate fathers. And this is not only a problem in our society but found among various groups throughout the world. One writer has summed it up as follows:

In far too many cultures, men have been brought up in accordance with an unfortunate concept of masculinity. According to this concept, it is perfectly proper for a man to be coarse, vulgar, unclean, violent, lacking in self-respect, undignified in behavior, and to devote his life to the acquisition of power and material wealth. There is no gainsaying the fact that this conception of what men ought to be has been responsible for a very great part of the tragedies that fill human history. The aforementioned qualities have been exhibited by so many men over so many centuries that is not at all surprising that it should be almost universally believed they are inherent in the masculine character.

But the evidence suggests they are cultural in origin. And the evidence is right at hand for everyone to see. Men who have been brought up according to a diametrically opposed concept of masculinity are refined, dignified, civilized in bearing, possessed with self-respect, and exhibit regard for ethical, intellectual, aesthetic, and religious values. The world might become a considerable better place to live in if parents were to repudiate their barbaric concept of masculinity and bring boys up in accordance with one as civilized as that governing the rearing of girls. Men can help the process along by living their lives on the assumption that there is nothing unmanly about being civilized. (Kamiat, Feminine Superiority.)

Surely, to think of Mussolini, Hitler, or Stalin, as “masculine personalities” is to make the term synonymous with some of the worst potentiality of human nature. On the other hand, surely, Jesus, St. Francis of Assissi, or Gandhi, were not less “masculine” because of their love, compassion, and reverence for human life. In short, we are suggesting that there is a real need to re-interpret and re-evaluate the idea of masculinity and to begin rearing our sons accordingly.

The fourth and last difficulty I would like to mention is the lack of depth of fatherliness. It has been suggested that the roots of fatherliness are not as deep as those of motherliness (Josselyn). Why shouldn’t the father be as deeply significant, psychologically, to a child as the mother? This lack of depth of fatherliness is reflected in various ways in our culture. For example, it is interesting to note that in the book, Dictionary of Thought, there are many references to the word “mother,” while the word “father” doesn’t even occur. We often hear about how unselfish mother love is, how wonderful motherhood is, but what we are asking here is, what about father’s love and what about fatherhood? Why are fathers, as a group, not as wholeheartedly committed to the rearing of their children as mothers? To the extent that this is so, not only is the child denied a very significant and crucially important relationship, but the father also misses one of the most rewarding human experiences that life affords. “When men abandon the upbringing of their children to their wives, a loss is suffered by everyone, but perhaps most of all by men themselves. For what they lose is the possibility of growth in themselves for being human which the stimulation of bringing up one’s children gives.” (Montagu).

Perhaps, because of some of the factors already mentioned, fathers are not as likely to mean as much to their children as mothers. Another source of difficulty in this connection is the very limited amount of contact many fathers have with their children. A few years ago, in an article entitled, “American Men are Lousy Fathers,” Philip Wylie observed that there are 168 hours in a week. “The average man spends about 40 of them at work. Allow another 15 hours for commuting time, lunch, overtime, etc. Then set aside 56 hours, 8 each night, for sleep. That adds up to 111 hours, leaving dad 57 hours he can find time to be a father to his children.”

Now how many of these 57 hours does the average father actually spend with his children? Well, one group of 300 7th and 8th grade boys kept accurate records for a two weeks period. The average time the father and son had alone together for an entire week was 7 1/2 minutes. Thus, the price of business success or professional achievement might sometimes occur at the expense of being less adequate as a father. Certainly, this is a very real problem in many families. Of course, it is not simply a matter of quantity of time that a father spends with his child, but the quality of the relationship that counts, at least given a minimum of contact together.

Finally, Komarovsky, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, has observed that perhaps both mothers and fathers in many instances lack sufficient depth in their role as parents.

It is quite true that building bridges, writing books, and splitting the atom, are no more essential to society or more difficult than child rearing. But, in our opinion, women cannot be made to believe it unless men believe it too; unless, that is, the whole of our society becomes oriented toward values quite different from those which dominate it today. If men believed for a moment that the rearing of children (and their role as a father) is as difficult and important as building bridges, they would demand more of a hand in it too. It would become unnecessary f or child psychologists to campaign for more active fatherhood. A man could derive prestige and self-esteem from spending weekends with his children, even if this called for a less single-minded dedication to occupational success. The conflict between occupational and family interests would then also become a problem for men and each would have to strike his own balance between the conflicting interests.

Truth Magazine, VI: 1 pp. 2-6
October 1961

The Need of Parental Authority

H. Leo Boles

Perhaps few subjects need to be stressed more than this one. Parents have lost sight of their responsibility to their children, and children are growing up to disregard all restraints and parental authority. In the general decline of respect for authority, both human and divine, which prevails to an alarming extent at the present time, and which threatens to involve in social anarchy and confusion all of the elements of society, it is woeful to observe an almost total failure on the part of parents to exercise their authority in controlling their children. One of the great causes of disrespect for all authority by young people today is the failure of parents to exercise authority over their children. The parent stands to the child, in the years of its character and habits, in the place of God and of all other authority. God has enjoined upon parents that they exercise His authority over the child while it is young and tender. Children are most impressionable in youth, and the parent should not neglect the opportunity for training them.

Continue reading “The Need of Parental Authority”

Children Need A Father

by Heath Rogers

Actress Jennifer Aniston has come under fire for comments that she has recently made in which she dismissed the need of fathers in having and raising children.

Aniston is reported to have said that “times have changed” when it comes to thinking about the traditional family. She went on to say, “Women are realizing more and more that you don’t have to settle. They don’t have to fiddle with a man to have that child.” These comments were made as Aniston was promoting her new movie titled “The Switch,” a romantic comedy about a woman who gets pregnant using a sperm donor.

Continue reading “Children Need A Father”

The Decline of Fatherhood In America

by Mike Willis

The United States is rapidly becoming a fatherless society. Dan Davenport reported, “In 1960, 5.8 million American kids lived in single-parent families. Today, that number has more than tripled, to an astonishing 18 million. Another figure is equally startling: nearly 40 percent of our children do not live in the same home as their biological father” (Better Homes and Gardens [June 1996], 46).

David Blankenhorn re-ported, “About one-third of all childbirths in the nation now occur outside of marriage. In most of these cases, the place for the father’s name on the birth certificate is simply left blank. In at least two or every three cases of unwed parenthood, father is never legally identified” (Fatherless America 10). Another wrote that “27.1 percent of all American children are born into single-parent homes, a number that is on the rise. In the black community, that figure is an astounding 68 percent” (Critical Issues [I:2], “Family Values,” Web address: http://www.leaderu.com/critical/family.html).

When Dan Quayle called our attention to this issue by commenting on the Murphy Brown sitcom in which the leading character decided to bear a child outside of wedlock, he was soundly attacked by Hollywood. The New York Daily News headline that reported on Quayle’s Murphy Brown speech was titled “Quayle to Murphy Brown: You Tramp!” However, more and more sociologists are reaching the same conclusion — Dan Quayle was right!

The Impact of Fatherless Homes

Enough time has elapsed since the social revolution of the 1960s that sociologists are able to critically analyze the impact of the breakdown of fatherhood on the lives of the children. Here are some of their findings:

• Poverty. “Over half of all children living with a single mother are living in poverty: a rate five to six times that of kids living with two parents.”

• General Health Problems: “An Australian study of over 2,100 adolescents found that teens from disrupted families had more general health problems, were more likely to display signs of emotional problems, and were more like to be sexually active than kids from intact families.”

• Child Abuse: “Child abuse is significantly more likely to occur in single parent homes than in intact families. In a study of 156 victims of child sexual abuse by the U.S. Department of Justice, the majority of the children were found to come from disrupted or single-parent homes. Only 31 percent of the children lived with both natural parents.”

• Crime: “Children from single parent homes are more likely to get involved in crime than those growing up in traditional homes. Robert Rector, a policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, has found that across the economic spectrum, children from single-parent households are more involved in crimes and drug than kids form two-parent homes. `The most accurate indicator of future delinquency in children is whether they are reared in one or two parent homes’ (Critical Issues [I:2], “Family Values,” Web ad-dress: http://www.leaderu.com/critical/family.html).

These conclusions concur with those of Blankenhorn in his book Fatherless America.

• Violence: “. . . fatherlessness is a primary generator of violence among young men… Surveys of child well-being repeatedly show that children living apart from their fathers are far more likely than other children to be expelled or suspended from school, to display emotional and behavioral problems, to have difficulty getting along with their peers, and to get in trouble with the police” (31). “Boys raised by traditionally masculine fathers generally do not commit crimes. Fatherless boys commit crimes” (30).

• Poverty: “In married-couple homes in the United States in 1992, about 13 percent of all children under the age of six lived in poverty; in single-mother families, about 66 percent of young children lived in poverty — a ratio of 5 to 1” (42).

• Domestic Violence Against Women: “Of all violent crimes against women committed by intimates during this period, about 65 percent were committed by either boy-friends or ex-husbands, compared with 9 percent by husbands” (35). The situation of a divorced woman con-trolling the husband’s right to see his children, a live-in boyfriend (or husband), resentment for the divorce and child support payments, feeling powerless to change it — all of these created a combustible atmosphere that frequently results in violence against women.

• Child Sexual Abuse: “A number of studies have shown that girls living with non-natal fathers [boyfriends and stepfathers] are at higher risk for sexual abuse than girls living with natal fathers” (41). “. . . a young child left alone with mother’s boyfriend experiences substantially elevated risks of abuse” (Idem.).

• Adolescent Child Bearing: Garfinkel and McLanahan’s study of fatherless homes reported that “daughters of single parents are 53 percent more likely to marry as teenagers, 111 percent more likely to have children as teenagers, 164 percent more likely to have a premarital birth, and 92 percent more like to dissolve their own marriages” (46).

Messages We Are Sending About Fatherhood

Our culture is sending distinct messages about father-hood in a number of ways. Television portrays fatherhood in a number of ways. Consider the role of fathers as portrayed in the following programs:

*Murphy Brown: The man is only necessary for sperm to conceive a child. After the child has been conceived, the man is not needed or wanted in the life of the mother.

*The Cosby Show: The man is portrayed as a “Father Knows Worst” type of guy, with the brains for knowing how to run the family clearly residing in the mother.

*Archie Bunker: The man is portrayed as an ignorant, prejudiced tyrant over the family.

We are sending the message to our children that divorce is a normal part of life. In divorce, the mother gets the custody of the children, the father sends child support payments and visits on every other week-end, and the divorced mother and father go on happily in their lives. Parents who divorce with hostility are encouraged to learn how to have a happy divorce. Not ever is the message being sent that divorce is not the solution to family problems. Even in the best divorces, both parents remarry and go their separate ways. The father is consumed with the responsibilities of his new family and his children see less and less of him. Within a couple of years, his children will rarely see him.

Restoring the Role of Fatherhood

In the darkness created by the deterioration in the home, Christians have a wonderful opportunity to display the light of the gospel, both in word and by example.

The word of the gospel is that God ordained that children be raised in the home of their natural mother and father. When God created the world, he created the home. Children were to be raised by Adam and Eve, not some state agency, a day-care center, a grandparent or close friend, but by the biological parents who conceived them (Gen. 2:18-25). The home is not a temporary arrangement for sexual gratification that is cast aside when the “new” wears off. Rather, the gospel announces that marriage is a life-time commitment between a man and woman (Rom. 7:1-6). It is to last “until death do us part.” This stable home is the best environment in which to rear children. Christians need to be preaching at every opportunity what God reveals about the home. The darkness of the world around us with reference to the family should cause each of us to preach what God reveals on the home to our friends and neighbors.

We can display the light of the gospel in our own homes. When father and mother love each other, accept their respective roles of husband/father and wife/mother in the home, and bring up God-fearing children, their home will be a refreshing oasis in the midst of troubled homes. Their children will not be troublemakers at school; they will show respect for their teachers and principals. They will learn their lessons and move on into higher education or specialized job training so that they can assume the roles of parents in their own homes. In contrast to the children of broken homes, this family will be an exemplary role model for others. Non-Christians will see the family of Christians and be drawn toward the God of the gospel who revealed how to have Christian homes.

Other messages about manhood emphasize that father-hood is being respectfully discharged so long as the child support payments are paid in a timely fashion and occasionally the father makes time to visit his children. The father is especially good if he is a “Disney World Father,” one who takes his child to an amusement park on week-ends or otherwise buys the children things the mother cannot afford. Can the role of “fatherhood” be satisfied by a man who visits for a few hours every other weekend?

Guardian of Truth XLI: 12 p. 1
June 19, 1997

Love Your Children By Loving Your Mate

Love Your Children

By Loving Your Mate

by Chris Reeves

Parenting begins with parents. Parents joined in marriage are to children what a foundation is to a house. If you want your children to grow up strong with the right values, then you, as parents must provided them with the right foundation from the beginning. God provided for the home by first creating one man and one woman to be joined in marriage. These two joined in marriage were to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:26-28). The order is this: a godly marriage first, then children. So, how can parents love their children? They can love them by loving their mate. The Apostle Paul wrote that the older women were to teach the younger women “…to love their husbands, to love their children…” (Titus 2:4). Loving your children and loving your mate go hand in hand.

Love Your Children

By Maintaining a Godly Marriage

Marriages built upon God’s word will result in children being raised the right way. Do you have enough love for your children to begin and maintain a godly marriage? Marriage begins with one man and one woman for life (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6). This kind of marriage is honorable among all (Hebrews 13:4).

There are problems when children are brought into the world without a godly set of parents guiding them. The percentage of out-of-wedlock births increased 511 percent from 1960 to 1997.[1] And, the percentage of single-parent families more than tripled during this time.[2] Between 1960 and 1997 the marriage rate decreased 33 percent.[3] Children born out of wedlock and to single parents often end up as juvenile delinquents because they do not have the nurturing they need from a godly father and mother. Even if two parents are present in the life of a child, it is possible for these parents to neglect the child to the point of shame (Proverbs 29:15). God wants two godly parents – one man and one woman living the way God directs – to be fruitful and multiply. Parents who are first directed by God’s word will be able to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). What if your marriage is not built upon the principles of God’s word? Fix it! Do you love your children enough to correct any wrongs in your marriage?

Maintaining a godly marriage also takes time together. Wise Solomon wrote, “And rejoice in the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18), and again, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days…” (Ecclesiastes 9:9). Peter wrote that a godly husband and wife are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). Marriage is a “one flesh” relationship (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5-6; Ephesians 5:31). You may be married with children, but you must also spend some time during the day together with your spouse rejuvenating your relationship. Enjoy life together! Yes, raising children involves time, but parents must also put a priority on their own time together. Time spent together physically and spiritually will help parents to meet the challenges of raising children. Remember, partnership comes first, then parenthood.

Love Your Children

By Setting the Right Example

Children see what parents do, and hear what parents say. Parents, do you love your child enough to set the right example for them? All the passages of Scripture that apply to Christians setting the right example for the world would certainly apply also to parents setting the right example for their children (Matthew 5:12-13; Philippians 2:15-16; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12). Parents, if you want to know how your children will turn out tomorrow, take a good look at yourself today. Like father like son … like mother like daughter (Ezekiel 16:44). The best lesson you can teach your children outside the word of God is a godly example. Do you know that over 90 percent of a child’s influence comes from the home? You cannot rely on society, public schools, friends, local churches, or even other Christians to set the right example for your children. You must do it!

Parents, your children will see the bad in your marriage. Your children will see and hear you when you fuss, fight and insult one another. They will hear you when you lie, murmur and complain, use profanity, or when you tear down church members. They will see you if you are lazy or dishonest. They will also watch you as you put drugs, alcohol or tobacco into your body. They will see all your character flaws and imitate them (Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-20; Ephesians 4:25 – 5:5; Colossians 3:5-9). Remember, deeds often speak louder than words. What message are your children hearing from you?

Parents, your children will see the good in your marriage. This of course, is what God desires. Mothers, your daughters will see how you submit to your husband as the church submits to Christ and they will grow up to do the same (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-5). Godly mothers will also exemplify respect for the father (Ephesians 5:33; 1 Peter 3:2). Your children will see how you help your husband (Genesis 2:18,20). They will see your modest demeanor (1 Timothy 2:9-11; Titus 2:5) and how you love them and your husband (Titus 2:4). Fathers, your sons will see how you honor, cherish and love your wife as Christ loved the church and they will grow up to do the same (Proverbs 12:4; 31:28-29; Ephesians 5:25-33; Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). Godly fathers will not provoke a child (Ephesians 6:4) or show bitterness toward the mother (Colossians 3:19). Godly fathers will also set the right example of a loving leader (head) in the home (Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23).

Setting the right example for your children begins with being a Christian yourself. Are you a Christian? Are you a faithful Christian? Do you love your children enough to show them the importance of being a faithful Christian? Why would your children want to be saved if you are not? Why would they want to live right and go to heaven if you are not living right? Why would they want to attend worship services regularly if you do not? Why would they be motivated to pray and read the Bible regularly if you do not? Why would they want to put God’s kingdom first if you do not? Why would they want to help others or share the gospel if they do not see you doing it? Parents, you need to follow the example of Paul who followed Christ and became a faithful Christian (Acts 26:29; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9), only then can you set the right example yourself for your children. If you are not a Christian, or if you marry a non-Christian, it will be difficult to raise your children in the right way. Parents, don’t just talk your values, walk your values.

Love Your Children

By Sharing the Responsibility

Parenting takes two. God has given the responsibility of raising children to both the mother and the father. Yes, mothers are to “rule the household” (1 Timothy 5:14) and be “workers at home” (Titus 2:5). But, fathers are given the responsibility of nurturing the children in “the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). There are many times when a mother has to raise the children without the help of the father and vice versa. In some cases, the mother is too quick to avoid her duty of managing the home by seeking secular work outside the home, or the father is too busy with his work and hobbies to help care for the children. This is not according to God’s plan. Fathers and mothers, do not let the responsibility of raising your children fall solely on your mate. Help each other as much as you can. Take your part seriously, and fulfill it completely each day. “Children are a heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3) for the mother and the father. Both have the responsibility to care for the children.

Love Your Children

By Remaining Committed

At the end of the 20th Century, approximately forty percent of all first marriages in the United States ended in divorce. The divorce rate has more than doubled since 1960. America has the highest divorce rate of Western nations. Almost one of every ten adults is divorced. The number of children involved in divorce in 1995 was 1.05 million. Sadly, about three of five divorcing couples have at least one child.[4] What a tragedy! Many suffer from a divorce including the children. A man and woman should remain committed to each other after they vow to be married. They should do this because they love God’s word, because they love each other, and because they love their children. Divorce and remarriage for any cause (except for the cause of fornication) is contrary to the New Testament (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11) and results from disrespect for God’s word, selfishness and a lack of desire to work out problems.

Children are often hurt in divorce because they no longer have a permanent father or mother. Children of divorce often exhibit conduct problems, psychological maladjustments, and lower academic achievement. They are more likely to drop out of school and engage in premarital sex during their teen years.[5] Children of divorce often slump into confusion, guilt, regression, separation anxiety, misbehavior, sadness and disillusionment, feeling deprived, anger, sexual tension, identity problems, false security, depression, fear, isolation or grief.[6] Married couples with children seeking a divorce need to sit down and seriously contemplate the consequences of their actions. An unlawful divorce and remarriage that goes unrepented will damn the soul and harm the children. Married couples who truly love God, each other and their children will remain committed to each other for life (Proverbs 2:17; 5:15ff). Jesus said, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).

There are a number of ways you as a parent can show your love for your children. You can love them by teaching and training them and by providing for them. You can also love them by loving your mate. Maintain a godly marriage, set the right example for your children, share the responsibility of raising them, and remain committed to each other.

Questions

1. What is God’s divine arrangement for the home (Genesis 1:26-28)?

2. Mothers must learn to love whom (Titus 2:4)?

3. Maintaining a godly marriage will do what for the children?

4. Why is it important for married couples to spend time together?

5. Why is a parent’s example important to the child?

6. List some bad examples that parents can set for their children.

7. List some good examples that parents can set for their children.

8. Why is it important for both parents to be faithful Christians?

9. What responsibility in raising children does the mother have (1 Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5) and the father have (Ephesians 6:4)?

10. How common is divorce today?

11. What kind of divorce is contrary to New Testament teaching?

12. How does divorce affect children?

13. Why is it important for married couples to remain committed to each other for life?

Chris Reeves

4922 Ogg Road

Cedar Hill, TN 37032

chrisreeves@juno.com


[1] The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, page 47 (WaterBrook Press, 1999).

[2] Ibid. page 57.

[3] Ibid. page 63.

[4] Ibid. pages 68-72.

[5] Ibid. page 72.

[6] Children of Divorce, pages 39-73 (Zondervan Publishing House, 1992).