Christian Family

Fatherhood: Only Real Men Need Apply



“He will turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and he will turn the disobedient to righteous patterns of thinking.” Luke 1:17b

Fatherhood is not for wimps.  It is a tough job, with a huge upside, but littered with pitfalls. One piece of advice that I would give to young fathers don’t work so hard that you forget to be there for your children.  We as bread-winners get sucked into the rat race mindset. The trap is so subtle.  It draws you in rather quickly. It convinces you that providing for your family is all that matters.  Beware of what I call the Cats in the Cradle Syndrome.

The Cat’s in the Cradle Syndrome

 The “Cats in the Cradle” is the title of a famous song sung by Harry Chapin but written by Harry Chapin’s wife, Sandy, as a poem long before their son was born. Once Josh was born,  it was turned into this song. It is a haunting song with a powerful message to fathers. The most important lyric in the song is:

“I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day

I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me”

 Here is an illustration of that disease.

Doctor Potter tells the story of a young man who stood at the bar of a court of justice to be sentenced for forgery. The judge had known him from a child, for his father had been a famous legal light and his work on the Law of Trusts was the most exhaustive work on the subject in existence. “Do you remember your father?” asked the judge sternly, “that father whom you have disgraced?”

The prisoner answered: “I remember him perfectly. When I went to him for advice or companionship, he would look up from his book on the Law of Trusts, and say, ‘Run away boy, I am busy.’ My father finished his book, and here I am.” The great lawyer had neglected his own trust, with awful results.—T. De Witt Talmadge[1]

“If left to themselves, children will be rebels, so it is necessary for the parents to train their children.” Unknown

If you are an older father and your kids are grown, you may feel like a bad father.  Guess what? You are not alone. The Bible records a long list of parents who struggled to make healthy choices in raising their children.   Some made bad decisions either by being bad examples to their children or by failing to discipline them properly. Here are just a few compiled by Warren Wiersbe:

  • David pampered Absalom and set him a bad example, and the results were tragic.
  • Eli failed to discipline his sons, and they brought disgrace to his name and defeat to the nation of Israel.
  • Isaac pampered Esau, while his wife showed favoritism to Jacob; and the result was a divided home.
  • Jacob was showing favoritism to Joseph when God providentially rescued the lad and made a man out of him in Egypt.

You can’t go back in time and undo all the missed birthdays, baseball games, music recitals, but you can be there for them now.  For younger fathers learn from our mistakes.  Don’t put your career ahead of your children.  Don’t justify the long hours in place of something that is best for them.  Your presence is best for them.  Your place in the life of a child goes back centuries.

 Father’s You Plan a Critical Role.

 In Paul’s day, the father had supreme authority over the family. When a baby was born into a Roman family, for example, it was brought out and laid before the father.

If he picked it up, it meant he was accepting it into the home. But if he did not pick it up, it said the child was rejected. It could be sold, given away, or even killed by exposure. No doubt a father’s love would overcome such monstrous acts, but these practices were legal in that day. Men don’t take your role lightly. Don’t underestimate just how important you are in the life of your children.

[1] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 431). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.


Other posts in this series:




TED Talk: How to raise successful kids — without over-parenting

By loading kids with high expectations and micromanaging their lives at every turn, parents aren’t actually helping. At least, that’s how Julie Lythcott-Haims sees it. With passion and wry humor, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford makes the case for parents to stop defining their children’s success via grades and test scores. Instead, she says, they should focus on providing the oldest idea of all: unconditional love.