A Father’s Influence
Many people have played a role in shaping who you are. But one figure has an influence on your life like no other: your father.
Everyone knows that both mothers and fathers play important roles in the development of their children. Unfortunately, the positive impact a father can make is often overlooked or minimized. Sadly, many grow up without a father and are shaped by his absence. According to the National Center for Fathering, children without a strong father figure in their lives “are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems.”
With Father’s Day approaching, let’s take a look at this important, yet often disrespected, member of the family.
What we can learn from fathers
Here are three (of the many!) things we can learn from our fathers:
Masculinity and femininity.
Boys can learn how to be men by watching their fathers. It’s not necessarily what their fathers say, but what they do that can show children how an honorable man conducts himself. Much of what a boy does when he grows up is learned as a child from his father—so a father’s example (either good or bad) will play a huge role in the man his son will be.
But a father’s impact is not limited to his sons. Researchers have found that daughters are also strongly influenced by their fathers, especially regarding their educations, careers and decisions on when to have sex, get married and whether to have children.
Much of what a boy does when he grows up is learned as a child from his father—so a father’s example will have a huge role in the man his son will be.Linda Nielson on family-studies.org noted: “The well-fathered daughter is also the most likely to have relationships with men that are emotionally intimate and fulfilling. … What is surprising is not that fathers have such an impact on their daughters’ relationships with men, but that they generally have more impact than mothers do.”
Children can also develop confidence through interactions with their fathers. The time a father invests in his children shows them that they matter. This will affect their confidence as they get older and take on the world. Those with fathers who abandon or neglect them will often have issues with self-worth. So fathers who spend time with their children encouraging them and praising their efforts can have a profound effect on the confidence levels of their children.
We also learn our values from our fathers. We don’t always internalize every value they teach us, but in general, children will eventually have values similar to those of their parents.
An example of this is King Solomon, who, in his younger years requested wisdom when God offered him anything he wanted (1 Kings 3). Solomon’s desire for wisdom wasn’t totally self-generated, but was instilled in him by his father, David (Proverbs 4:3-6, 7-9). If children don’t learn good values from their fathers, they will pick up their values (either good or bad) from other sources. Fathers should work hard to be the source of right values in their children’s lives.
God the Father
One reason Christ came to earth was to reveal God the Father (Matthew 11:27). As a father, God can also have a huge impact on our lives—if we allow Him to. If we establish a father-child relationship with God, then He can have the biggest impact on our lives. In fact, a human father’s greatest responsibility is to point his children to their greater Father—God. To learn more about this topic, read “God as a Father.”
God teaches us what type of person we are to be. Another reason Christ came to earth was to set an example for us to imitate (1 Peter 2:21; compare 1 Corinthians 11:1). By studying God’s Word and learning about Him, we learn to become a man or a woman after His spiritual image.
God also gives us a reason for confidence. God reveals that He cares deeply for each of us and knows us intimately—so much so that we are told He even knows the number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30). He also has called and chosen a small number of people He is working with now (Matthew 20:16). If you are among that group, you are very special to Him. He likens His people to precious jewels (Malachi 3:17). That should make us feel special—but very humble as well!
A day for Dad
Don’t just see this Father’s Day as a day to send a card. Take a serious look at your father and the enormous influence he has had in your life. A lot of who you are today is because of what he did for you. If you didn’t have a father who set this example for you, then focus on your Heavenly Father and how you can strengthen your relationship with Him!
For past insights into Father’s Day, read