The expectation of fatherhood as a vocation
From an article by the Institute of Family Studies
A father’s presence improves a child’s life in many respects, including socio-economically, as described in a recent report from the Institute for Family Studies. A young man who has a father in his life is more likely to graduate, avoid prison, and be less idle.
This isn’t surprising, and it shouldn’t be. It’s sensible that a father who is present provides ongoing structural support for his child. Even his mere presence affects a child’s outlook. But children need involved fathers more than just present ones. How a father communicates his love of family matters. A loving, kindly, and courageous man opens a world of play and spirit to a child.
But too few men today fill this vital role. Considerable weight lies in the disposition a man adopts, which stems from his own understanding of the value of a father. The work, then, must be reciprocal: Fathers must give themselves to their families, and they should receive reassurances in return — from family and from society — that bolsters their efforts, not merely out of utility or in search of the best social “outcomes,” but in recognition that a father is the best thing a man can be and a son can have. In Christianity, even those men who take on a spiritual vocation are fatherly to their flocks; many are explicitly referred to as “fathers.”
Within the father-daughter dynamic, too, fathers make a difference. A father’s emotional connection, or lack thereof, to his daughter determines how she interacts with men. A basis of warm, open communication will positively influence how she approaches male peers, authority figures, and the like. And her father can have a strong bearing on how she views God and undertakes religion.
For mothers, too, present fathers foster well-being. Married women simply are happier than those who are unmarried, and the potential for depression dwindles among married parents. Partnership gives crucial emotional support for parents — especially mothers, who by default generally adopt most child-rearing responsibilities — as they manage their children’s and their own lives. But spousal unity only inaugurates man’s purpose in marriage; children, granted they are given, provide form and a heroic aim.
Without an involved father, the family cannot approach the perfection of which it is capable, and it is no secret that many countries suffer from nearly system-wide fatherlessness. In response, we must do everything in our power to recapture, reignite, and recommit to the expectation of fatherhood as a vocation, a calling in life. We should encourage men to love the positions in which the responsibility of fatherhood places them, rather than reinforce them in their negligence.
As for family policy, we need to reinstitutionalise marriage and reintegrate fathers. Anything less divorces a child from the fullness of the family.
Read the full article here.
NB Although the original article was produced in response to the Roe abortion decision in the USA, it has been edited for the general wisdom above.
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From an article by the Institute of Family Studies, 15/02/2023