June 17, 2005 | Commentary on Family and Marriage
It's a simple message, but one rarely heard in today's culture. The sad reality is that we live in a society where the message to fathers is, "You're irrelevant. You're useless. You are a loser." Just flip on the television: commercials and sitcoms portray fathers as wimpy and ignorant. Men are depicted as lazy, uninvolved, unwanted, and/or impotent.
Dads, I've got news. Your family needs you. Society needs you. Your sons and daughters need you. Good dads have been the backbone of strong families, the secret behind happy children, and the zing in the step of satisfied wives throughout history.
So dear dads, this Father's Day, I honor all of you who have rejected the messages of a crazy culture that seeks to devalue you. I applaud those of you who, despite the hysterical screams of raging feminists, still open the doors for women. I extol men who protect your daughters and sons from those who seek to rob them of their innocence and their best futures. Thank you for your strong character, your courage, and for standing up for truth.
Along with the honor of being a father comes tremendous responsibility. In my newly released book, " Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad", I dedicate an entire chapter to Dads, outlining a half a dozen virtues that are particularly important for fathers to model for their families. Included in my list are reverence, commitment, honesty, pleasantness and respect, fitness and communication. I've excerpted below the section on reverence:
Your child is more likely to be exposed to diphtheria than to any display of sincere reverence outside of church. Nothing in today's secular and godless society is recognized as sacred or holy. The concept of God, even the word itself (except used in profanity), is foreign to any kid that does not get it at home. Fathers, the impact you have on your own child if you are a man of faith will be immeasurable. In Chapter Four, I shared a personal story of my own father's faith that has served to guide me throughout my life. If you think long enough, you too probably have a vivid memory of your own father's faith - or sadly, his lack thereof - that still lives with you. Both images are powerful; one is a powerful force for good in our kids' lives, and the other, a powerful force for destruction.
Start by examining your own faith and deciding in what you believe. Once you have, practice living your faith in front of and with your children.
It's up to dads to eliminate the profane and irreverent from our home. This includes not only television programming and music that transmit the wrong messages but also your own language, and the books and magazines you read.
If you are truly going to fight the culture and raise children who will stand up for what is right, you must teach your sons and daughters that certain language and images are not acceptable.
I never - even once - heard my father utter a curse word. And my kids have never heard my husband utter one. Guess what? Even though I have three teenagers, I've never heard any of them curse either. The power of example cannot be overstated.
As far as magazines are concerned, let me blunt. If you're into girly magazines, throw them away. I once knew a woman whose husband was consumed by pornography. His wife knew it-and he knew she knew - but he didn't care. He was actually shocked when they got divorced and his wife explained, "Having all these magazines was like having a mistress in our bedroom." How heartbreaking.
Dads, when boys see their fathers reading girly magazines, they develop a warped view of women. When girls see their fathers reading girly magazines, they develop a warped view of themselves. What good father would intentionally implant these distorted messages in his children's minds?
In addition to having your own spiritual life in order, you dads need to add tangible spiritual elements to the family's life. Take your family to church. Being active in a congregation will ground all of you in faith; it will also help you identify others in your area that are likely to share your values. If you don't go regularly, why don't you commit to doing so? It's important that your family identify with a body and has a place of faith to call its own.
Bring spirituality into your home. This is easy to do. Include some spiritual music in the play list of background music that's on your home stereo. Incorporate grace into mealtimes. Better yet, institute regular family prayer and study. Many good study guides are available through religious publishers. Discussion of what you believe, why you believe it, and how it applies to your daily life enrich these opportunities for family sharing.
The foundation of the character we all desire for our children is laid at an early age within the sheltered environment of the home. Dads, a lot is riding on your shoulders, and little eyes are always watching. Go ahead, be the dad of your child's dreams. You will be loved for it.
Rebecca Hagelin is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared on World Net Daily