Flying kites, throwing balls, a feeling of security, sometimes a strong word or a look; these are all memories that many of us have of our fathers. Stop for a moment and think…What are yours?
Growing up as the son of a naval officer who was often gone for months on deployment, what I truly remember the most was him coming home. When he returned from a long trip, I was no longer the only male at home, and I was no longer outnumbered by my mom and sister. Dad did more than just even the male to female ratio in our house; he mattered to each of us for different reasons, but for all of us, he made our home complete.
We all have memories of our fathers. Some are good while others are bad. The examples they set, their presence, or absence, make an indelible impact on our lives. In a culture that screams to every one of us that we are independent and don’t need anyone else, nature shouts in return that we are far stronger together than alone. Corporations speak about the power of teams, and societies talk of building communities, so isn’t this fundamental reality the same within a home? Moms, dads, and children – all matter because of the unique role that only they can play.
Unfortunately, what we see in society is many men no longer playing a critical part of that role. “We make men without Chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” (C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man) The reality of “men without chests” plays a part of their absence from the home, and the results are devastating. Whatever the reasons are for many men removing themselves from the home, the impact is undeniable.
As an organization that exists to build generations of stronger families, we start with young men who need a second chance. It would be easy to speak to the statistic on crime since fatherlessness is the single greatest predictor of incarceration. But of all these numbers, the two that jump out to me are how youth do in school and their emotional health. Dads matter in how boys and girls do in school. Dads matter in how boys and girls feel about themselves.
Every day, we strive to shape men of character. We strive to provide a Godly example to each young man entrusted to us of how they should act as men and how they should treat their own father. Why? Because men matter and can make an absolute difference in this generation. But that requires us as men to not act like dogs who are simply looking for their next meal or place to rest or sexual conquest. Being a man is so much more (see articles here). Youth today are looking for relationship. We are to be connected to our children, in relationship with them. Dads, love your children. They are a part of you, and you are a part of them. They are a living “fingerprint” of you. Dads matter; I want to be remembered by my children that way.