Who are you? What made you the way you are? What do you look like? What do you value in life? What are your hopes, dreams and goals?
None of these questions can be answered in a word, or even a sentence. However, the basis of these answers, the material that you would need, began to be compiled when your life started.
A plethora of other “deep” or “probing” questions could be asked about your person—but in almost every case, you could not turn to a single event that forms the answer. This is because your life experience from the day you were conceived has helped shape the person you are today.
From a scientific perspective, any answer to the above questions would come from your brain. Let’s notice how your brain has been working from the beginning of your life (emphasis ours): “Brain cells are ‘raw’ materials—much like lumber is a raw material in building a house. Heredity may determine the basic number of ‘neurons’ (brain nerve cells) children are born with, and their initial arrangement, but this is just a framework. A child’s environment has enormous impact on how these cells get connected or ‘wired’ to each other.”
“A brain is not a computer. The brain begins working long before it is finished. And the same processes that wire the brain before birth also drive the very rapid growth of learning that occurs immediately after birth. At birth, a baby’s brain contains 100 billion neurons, roughly as many nerve cells as there are stars in the Milky Way...During the first years of life, the brain undergoes a series of extraordinary changes” (“Brain Development,” University of Maine).
From a young age, you were a giant sponge, drinking in your environment—sounds, shapes, lights, faces, voices, languages, music, emotions, etc. As you grew, more complex things impacted your world, ultimately developing who you are today—parents, other caregivers, siblings, friends, education, physical environment, etc.
Now ask: Which individuals were most responsible for your developmental years of life? For almost every reader, the answer is your father and mother.
For millennia, this has been the cycle for the family unit: A man and woman come together in marriage. They have children. They care for their children and teach them how to live. The children grow up, take what they have learned and live their own lives, usually becoming parents. And thus, the cycle continues.
That cycle is quickly falling apart. The social experiments of the 20th and 21st centuries—which have attempted to redefine the roles of parent and child—have caused the family to come under assault. One of the greatest factors is that families are increasingly becoming fatherless.
Over the last 50 years, more and more children have been growing up without their fathers. The role of a father should, simply from a mathematical perspective, be one that contributes 50% to the development of any child. But millions of children in the United States, and the world at large, will put their heads on a pillow tonight in a home without a father.
Here are some statistics from Focus on the Family (emphasis ours):
Stop and consider the first two points. Twenty-four million children are growing up without a father figure—without the teaching, guiding, experience-building, correcting, nurturing that a father can bring. When you see 20 children, realize that seven are not living with their father. Then realize that nearly 10 million have not even seen their father in the past year!
Consider a point of reference: “In 1960, less than eight million children under age 18 were living in families where the father was absent” (U.S. Bureau of the Census). This means that the number of children being raised in single-mother homes has tripled in less than 50 years!
In the 1950s, the term “nuclear family” was coined. This essentially described a family of a father, mother and children. This was to distinguish from an “extended family,” which could include grandparents, or others. By the 1960s, 80% of America’s children lived with two married parents—today under 60% do.
A 1996 Gallup poll revealed 79% agree that “The most significant family, or social problem facing America is the physical absence of the father from the home.”
Additionally, the poll stated that 54% feel that fathers do not know what is going on in their children’s lives and that 90% feel it is important that a child lives with both a father and a mother.
The nuclear family is facing a meltdown. Where will it all end? What impact will this have on millions of minds—generation after generation? How can we solve the mess in which our social experiments have put us?
Today’s environment of fatherless families was foreseen long ago in the world’s bestseller, the Holy Bible. Scripture explains the problems mankind is now experiencing.
Notice in the last book of the Old Testament, in Malachi 4:6: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse [Hebrew: utter destruction].”
By implication, this describes a time when the hearts (a biblical way of saying “mind”) of fathers would be turned away from their children, and vice versa, and that this will have to be changed.
The previous verse adds more context: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” The “Day of the Lord” is a time of impending, unprecedented trouble that is explained throughout the Old Testament and New. Verse 5 explains that an individual would come in the power and spirit of Elijah, and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. If this would not happen, then the entire world would be utterly destroyed (vs. 6)! (We do not have space in this article to explain the fulfillment of this event. Take the time to read our book Herbert W. Armstrong – His Life in Proper Perspective.)
We live in a time when children’s minds are turned away from their fathers. Again, millions of children do not see or live with their fathers. Then there are those who still live under the same roof, but with fathers who are emotionally distant because of work schedules, or the child is distant because he or she is always watching television and playing video games.
In the end, fathers are absent from their children physically and, in even more cases, mentally and emotionally.
In regard to fathers and their children, consider just a few proverbs from the Bible:
These proverbs are expressed to children regarding the need to listen to the instruction and teaching of their father. If they do not take heed, they are simply foolish. The child brings shame and reproach. In the end, a child who does not adhere to wisdom lives an unhappy life. But sons and daughters cannot apply these scriptures if the father is not at home—or is not fulfilling his duty when he is!
Let’s notice a clear, powerful indictment of fathers who do not care for their families—who fail to do their part as one half of the team in rearing their children. It is found in the New Testament, in I Timothy: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel [Greek: unbeliever]” (5:8).
The National Fatherhood Initiative reported that a father’s involvement in a child’s life affects every aspect of mental, social, psychological and physical development.
Consider the following statistics:
• Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
• Obese children are more likely to live in father-absent homes than are non-obese children.
• A study of 13,986 women in prison showed that more than half grew up without a father.
• Children who grow up in fatherless homes are five times more likely to be poor.
• Youths in households without an active father figure had significantly higher odds of being incarcerated than those in two-parent families.
• Teenage girls in the United States and New Zealand who grow up without fathers are twice as likely to engage in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to become pregnant as an adolescent.
• Additionally, in a survey of 701 fathers across the U.S., the Initiative found that:
• 91% of respondents agreed there is a father-absence crisis in the nation.
• 81% agreed that men generally perform better as fathers if they are married to the mothers of their children.
• 99% of fathers agreed that being a father was a very important part of who they are.
• Across the world, the numbers tell the same story. At the International Fatherhood Summit in Britain, experts provided an international sampling of fatherhood statistics:
• A review of 156 cultures concluded that only 20% of these societies promoted men’s close relationships with infants.
• South American countries, including Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia, maintain the lowest percentages of childhood years spent without a father, while African countries boast the highest, reaching over 30%.
Although the role of fathers is not taken as seriously as it should be, statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau demonstrate that some fathers are doing their part. In 2003, for instance, 30% of children younger than age six living with married parents ate breakfast with their fathers every day; 63% of children six years or younger received praise from their fathers three times a day.
Strong words! Fathers who do not take care of their families, who do not fulfill their role as head of the household, who do not rear their children—and all that the verse means—are worse than infidels, or unbelievers!
Millennia ago, the Creator of life ordained the marriage institution between man and woman. The purpose of marriage is to bring great happiness and peace, creating a wonderful environment in which children can grow up in a correct way. It is a God-ordained structure that is to be followed and adhered to. Both wife and husband have distinct jobs or duties—both of which are very important! You cannot have one without the other.
Let’s look at the father’s role. Often those who are active in the home do not know how to properly rear their children! The father’s role in a family is ridiculed and lambasted in an endless fashion. Look at television advertisements or sitcoms where both a husband and wife are present. The father is almost always portrayed as a bumbling buffoon who needs his wife to make every decision for the well-being of the family. Ultimately, both husbands and wives have followed this way of thinking in their own marriages.
The modern husband and father stands in stark contrast to how the Creator of man defined his duty: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:23-25).
Around the globe, fathers are not taking charge—they are not leading their families as they should. The end result is that children do not have two parents—the God-ordained team—to guide them, to develop their minds, to teach them, to correct them and to love them.
Fathers, you were asked at the beginning of this article, “Who Are You?” The answer to the question lies with the responsibility of the actions you take in addition to the choices your parents made. You must ask, who will your children become? You have the potential to create human beings who will succeed, make the right decisions, have their own happy families—and in the end, reach their ultimate potential.
Fathers, you have brought children into the world, and properly rearing them is your responsibility. All the physical possessions you gain in your life, the riches and the material things, are not permanent. But your children will live on, and they, in turn, will also have children, who will have children, and so on. The parenting decisions you make will affect generations to come.
Take time to read our thorough book Train Your Children God’s Way. Included in it are hundreds of specific principles you should be applying as a father. Mothers should also study this book so they can better understand their role in the family as well as that of their husbands’.
Will you contribute to the nuclear family meltdown? The power not to is in your hands.