I know that motherhood is a sacred and important role for women, but I am just learning about the importance of fatherhood. This learning has taken place over several years and has come by way of my sons and sons by marriage.
These fine young men – now more middle age men – amaze me with the way they interact with their children. I see things in the relationships between these sons and their children that I have never observed previously. I certainly did not see it in my relationship with my father or in the relationships of my husband and children. Because my sons are such good fathers, my grandchildren are greatly blessed in many ways.
I was recently walking through a Deseret Book Store when I saw a book written by my “favorite” Apostle. Even though I admire and respect all the Apostles and appreciate the counsel given by each of them, I know Elder D. Todd Christofferson personally. He knows who I am and knows my name even though he knows little about me. This little bit of personal knowledge shared with Elder Christofferson makes him seem extra special to me.
Elder Christofferson’s book is titled The Good That Men Can Do and can be purchased through Deseret Book Store. Elder Christofferson writes about fatherhood and the good that men can do in their roles of husbands and fathers. He shares the following quote from David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America.
Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many other are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will (2).
I am grateful that my sons are taking seriously the counsel given by prophets and apostles about their important roles as husbands and fathers. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states very clearly that it is “by divine design” [that] fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” Of course, fathers and mothers are supposed to support each other in their roles.
Elder Christofferson gives three keys to the good that can be done “in social terms” by men who are trying to be good fathers. “The key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers” (13). He also emphasizes that “fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam” (15). I love the following statement.
The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children….
Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father, who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families (17, 22).
In addition to sacrificing for their children, Christofferson suggests that fathers teach their children about Heavenly Father. They can do this by studying the scriptures with them as well as using informal discussions, working and playing together, and simply listening to their children. He says that fathers are to discipline and correct their children with love and to teach them to work. He states that the most important thing that a father can do is to love the mother of his children and to show that love.
My sons are much more involved in the lives of their children than my father was, but my father did many good things for his children. I knew even as a small child that my father loved my mother, and I felt great security in my home. My father not only showed his love for my mother, but he insisted that we show respect to her. I knew that I would answer to my father if I did not show respect to his beloved wife. Dad taught me to work and to work hard. He also taught us the importance of play.
My father worked the graveyard shift at a gas station and still worked his farm during the day. He slept for a few hours at a time, but I do not remember him ever sleeping for an 8-hour period of time. He also took the time to play games with us, particularly card games at holiday time. He loved to tickle us and give us whisker tea (rub our faces with his whiskers).
I did not appreciate my father so much while I was a child, but I learned of his greatness as an adult. I watched as he continued to learn and to become a better man as he grew older. He is a great example to me, and I look forward to seeing him again and being taught once again by him. Yes, I continue to learn of the importance and value of fathers and fatherhood.
A wonderful video about fatherhood can be found here.