A truly heartbreaking story broke over Christmas. A British consumer agency released a survey that showed that the tenth most requested gift from Father Christmas was “a dad” (coming in just behind “snow”). The first choice was a baby brother or sister, which is a heartening sign that materialism hasn’t quite claimed our souls yet. But the stand out figure is one that shows that a growing number of children see a father not as a “given” but as a “blessing” – as precious and elusive as a Nintendo Wii…
On Christmas Day, the Washington Times published some sad facts about the changing face of the American family:
In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother. In 1960, just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers.
Heartbreaking indeed. But it is more than just a cultural war. It is profoundly spiritual.
My son, who turns 13 at the end of next month, drew this illustration a couple of years ago. (Traditionalists please forgive the orientation). I keep it in my Bible and it serves to remind me of my responsibility towards him and his sister.
The other piece I keep with it, tucked in the Bible, is by Dr James Dobson:
Through the Darkness
I’m told that when I was a very small child—maybe two years of age— my family lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and my little bed was located beside the bed of my parents. My father said that it was common during that time for him to awaken at night to a little voice that was whispering, “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?”
My father would answer quietly, “What, Jimmy? And I would say, “Hold my hand!” My dad would reach across the darkness and grope for my little hand, finally engulfing it in his. He said later that the instant he had my hand firmly in his grip, my arm would become limp and my breathing deep and regular. I would immediately fall back to sleep.
You see, I only wanted to know that he was there! Until the day he died, I continued to reach for him—for his assurance, for his guidance—but mostly just to know that he was there.
Then, so very quickly, I found myself in my dad’s place. And I wanted to be there for my children—not just a name on their birth certificate, but a strong, warm, and loving presence in their lives.
You see, a dad occupies a place in a child’s heart that no one else can satisfy. So to all the men out there who are blessed to be called fathers: I urge you to be there for the little ones in your life who call you “Dad.”
So if you are a Dad, then please, just be that, and be there! Christlike, and faithful.