There will never be a time in our world when we do not need fathers and men who also serve as caregivers (teachers and mentors etc.) for children and young people. Male parental figures play a pivotal role in the development of a child, the health and direction of one's family, and even in the ways a child learns to love themselves and others throughout their lives. My grandfather and my mother had an excellent relationship, he sincerely cared about her and her children. Even though he was a disciplinarian, he was quite different from other fathers of his time as he often loved to laugh and make jokes and was also comfortable with being vulnerable in front of loved ones. As African people, we often emphasize the role of mothers in the community (as we should) and we often overlook the importance of having healthy male parental figures in our families.
Here are three key psychological and social benefits that Fathers provide:
1) Individuals with emotionally and physically present fathers have the potential to advance academically. Such individuals can boast about better communication skills and achievements in life. Oftentimes in the school system, boys (especially boys of color) experience academic and behavioral challenges but proactive male teachers who genuinely care about these young students can also serve as protective factors for children who do not have fathers and such teachers can help the children to succeed.
2) Fathers help foster behavioral health. Individuals who have involved fathers are less likely to experience depression and anxiety and if one is a male, he is less likely to grapple with issues of aggression.
3) If a father is actively involved in the lives of their sons, the males are less likely to commit suicide, to be incarcerated, and to deal with issues of substance abuse.
The Bible makes it clear that we are to honor our fathers (Exodus 20:12) and it also makes it clear fathers are not to provoke their children to anger (Ephesians 6:4). God’s word says they should, “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). While children are to honor and obey their fathers, the Lord also asks that fathers bring up their children per his law. Wonderful fathers are especially important in 2024 and we do thank you for all your work, but many have also been negatively impacted by issues with their relationships with their fathers. Christians estranged from their fathers worry if they are living in sin by creating distance between them and their fathers, but in cases where one is negatively impacted by a toxic father, we must remember that God does not want us to be unequally yoked (bound) with another individual, even if that person was a former caregiver. Strained child-father relationships and issues ranging from conflict to estrangement are often taboo topics in society, however, these challenges are important to discuss and interrogate for generational trauma to be healed and for our families and communities to grow stronger. There is always hope.
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