One of the hardest things about being a newlywed was seeing my new husband as my father’s son. As a single mom before we got married, I’d gotten used to making all the decisions. I thought I knew what was best. After all, I was the mom. The truth is that things didn’t get easier as more children were added to our home. I was with the kids most of the time and I struggled with giving over control.
There was a time in my marriage when God started talking to me about this. He reminded me the pain of growing up not knowing my biological father. He reminded me the emptiness of trying to get the approval of a distant and closed off step-dad. If my husband was wanting to be an active presence in our kids lives … why was I fighting so hard? Sure, he had different ideas of some aspects of parenting, but it didn’t mean those ideas were wrong. The more I stepped back, the more John stepped forward. My kids not only have an amazing dad, they’ve also grown up without the power struggles that existed when they were toddlers.
For some of you married moms, this message might hit home. For others you may be thinking, “I wish my husband would take the initiative. I wouldn’t fight it at all!”
The truth is that in many homes even if a dad lives at home there’s a disconnect between him and the kids. Maybe your husband is more interested in work or sports. It only makes sense. This dad thing is hard stuff, especially if there wasn’t a good role model, especially if he feels more confident in other areas. Many men focus on their jobs and hobbies because they KNOW they can excel in those. This fatherhood business … that’s scary stuff! It takes courage to step into the unknown, uncertain, and overwhelming territory of being a dad. It means putting your life on the line day after day for your kids.
That’s where the movie Courageous comes in …
I was privileged to watch a pre-release copy of this new movie a few weeks ago. The movie is from the makers of Fireproof (which I loved), so I had high expectations. I was not disappointed. I’d watch the movie again today if I still had the copy. I’d laugh and cry all over again.
The story centers around a group of police officers who put their lives on the line daily, but after a tragic event soon realize the front line they need to be facing is the battle for their kids. (This was especially meaningful to me because my stepdad was a police officer during my growing up years.)
Fatherhood is upheld in this film. The impact of dads on future generations is displayed through a moving story–not only by the men who take steps to embrace the calling, but by the conflict that comes through the young men and women who have no father figures in their lives. The statistics say it all:
According to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data, over 24 million children live apart from their biological fathers. That is 1 out of every 3 (33%) children in America. Nearly 2 in 3 (64%) African American children live in father-absent homes. One in three (34%) Hispanic children, and 1 in 4 (25%) white children live in father-absent homes. In 1960, only 11% of children lived in father-absent homes.
Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents (Source)
While the problem of fatherlessness is huge, there are small steps we can take to help men in their role.
1. Let them lead. Give them space to be the dads God designed them to be, even if it means they make mistakes now and then.
2. Watch Courageous which releases on September 30 and encourage your friends to do so. It’s a movie that reminds all of us that every father who fights to be in his child’s life is a hero! It’s worth watching and worth telling your friends about! In fact, if you can watch it on opening weekend please do. Those box office numbers will impact how many additional theaters will pick it up in the weeks to come!
3. Pray. Pray for the men in our lives–our husbands, fathers and sons. Also pray for the fatherless. Pray God will bring good role models into the lives of young men and women and consider your family–your man–of possibly being the answer to a young person’s prayers.
GIVEAWAY- How do you encourage your husband to be a great Father? Leave a comment for a chance to win $25 gift certificate to Fandango so you and your hubby can go see Courageous! (ends 9/16)