Unfortunately fatherhood has become a lost art in our nation. 40% of kids are born out of wedlock, including 73% of black kids. About 80% of kids who grow up in Christian homes leave the faith after high school -- they stop praying, reading their Bibles, and going to church (that's a failure of fatherhood). Our nation is facing a fatherhood crisis. The church needs to train fathers in the art of fatherhood, and then Christian fathers need to train their sons. What follows is a good place to start. Every father needs to know and do these seven things.
The Seven Responsibilities of Fatherhood
First, love the mother of your children. Start by marrying her. Be faithful to her. And learn how to make her the happiest woman on earth. Your kids' chances of prosperity in life will take a nosedive if your marriage fails.
Second, lead your children spiritually. Teach them the Bible at home several days a week -- you, not Mom. Bring them to church EVERY Sunday -- yes, even if they don't want to go. You force them to do "essential" things all the time -- school, the dentist, their chores, bathing, etc. Why would you treat church any different? And of course, exemplify Christian maturity in front of them.
Third, provide for your children. As the leader of the clan, the responsibility for meeting your family's needs falls on you, not your wife. It is okay if your wife works outside of the home; it's okay if she earns a higher income than you; and it's okay if you are a stay-at-home dad -- as long as you understand that your family's needs are primarily YOUR responsibility. In other words, don't force your wife to work outside the home. If she feels God leading her to do that, fine. If not, then encourage her to stay home. Homemaking is one of most significant vocations in existence, and your family will be better off if your wife stays home full time. There should be no argument about who gets to stay home. If your wife wants to stay home, then you need to go to work. The blunt truth is that she will do a much better job at homemaking than you. She's built for it. You're not. As well, it is your responsibility to ensure that the finances are managed wisely. You don't have the option of simply handing your wife your paycheck and asking her to manage it. You're not a child, and she's not your mother. You left your mother to care for your wife. If you're involved in the spending, then you need to be involved in the managing.
Fourth, protect your children. Every book, every movie, every TV show, every commercial, and every teacher (if your kids go to school outside the home) is selling ideas -- usually ideas that are unbiblical and hostile to Christ. And the world is much more effective at reaching our kids than the church is at reaching the world. It's your job to protect your children from being corrupted by the world (Jas 1:27). Closely monitor what they watch, read, hear, are taught at school, and who they spend time with.
Fifth, prepare your children for the future. Prepare them to resist the temptation of drugs and alcohol. Prepare them for sexual temptation. Prepare them for the challenges of dating and courtship. Prepare them to be financially wise. Prepare them to be successful professionally. Prepare them to be fully-engaged in civics. In other words, give them the knowledge and skills that they will need to survive and thrive as adults.
Sixth, discipline them. Discipline involves instruction and correction. Teach them how to behave, and correct them when they misbehave. Sometimes appropriate correction means a verbal rebuke; sometimes it means corporal punishment. Remember. Your children are not born good; they are born sinners with a natural inclination to do what is wrong, and that's what they will do without diligent, wise, and loving discipline. Neglecting to spank your kids is not a sign of love, it is a sign of weakness, and it will only hurt your children in the end.
Sixth, love your children. Shower them with encouraging words. Drown them with physical touch -- hugs, and kisses, and snuggles, and holding hands, and tickling, and wrestling. Serve them -- change diapers, help them get dressed, tie their shoes, teach them to ride a bike, etc. Give them gifts -- go big on birthdays, and every once in a while bring home a surprise! And give them quality time -- have family dinner together; play together; give them your attention; don't be a workaholic.
In short, fatherhood is not for wimps. It's for men. It's easy to be a "baby-daddy." You have to stop acting like an adolescent to be a good father. It takes strength, discipline, self-denial, diligence, and courage. But those of us who accept the challenge and take full responsibility for our families will get to experience one of the greatest joys and honors in all of life -- fatherhood.