Fathers have taken it on the chin over the past few decades. The destruction of oppressive patriarchy was deserved, but what has been lost is portrayal of healthy fatherhood in culture.
It may be the nature of what we consider good storytelling. Overcoming the challenges of bad or absent parents makes better-selling media. I do not consume a massive amount of TV, one show I can think of that comes to mind recently (and that is fading) that portrays a positive father is "Psych." The last one I remember watching as a child was "The Brady Bunch." And one of the best in an era of otherwise idiot or absent dads was "The Cosby Show," and we know how that all ended. Some notable exceptions today are "This Is Us" and "Blackish."
I am certain we can think of others, but a few years ago, when my children were watching children's shows, there are none that I can recall that had a healthy portrayal of fathers. Disney is notorious for non-parent or silly or "cool" parent shows. ("Finding Nemo" is somewhat of an exception.)
We all understand that pop-culture and television is not the best place to get a good healthy understanding of life, but it still influences us and is a tool used by interest groups to further agendas -- some healthy and others not so much. At its best, media can be consumed by families and it creates talking points and teaching moments. Dads, do you know what your children are watching? It is often not the content (age-appropriate assumed) that matters as much as it is how the content is processed.
There are all kinds of things that happen in this world, at school, at church, at social gatherings, at restaurants and cinemas and concerts that children need help with processing. Children need perspectives of men and women -- of mothers and fathers.
It is a long-established truth that children tend to do better with two biological parents who are in a healthy relationship in the same home. It is a well-known fact that more children grow up without this situation than with it. Life is complicated and relationships get dented, changed and sometimes broken. Sexuality and preferences will mean that some children grow up with two fathers or two mothers who are married. None of this diminishes the necessity for the adults to be adults. None of this diminishes the need for men to be good examples and good fathers to the best that current circumstances allow.
The world will always need men who are faithful and compassionate. We will always need men who exercise restraint and wisdom in guiding young men how to treat women. There has obviously been a great lack of such in our recent past, and headlines continue to demonstrate nearly systemic failure in our society. We can do better, and we must do better -- even if it means challenging our friends and neighbors. We need men who are good fathers and who are protectors of boys and girls.
There have been so many catastrophic failures in every part of society -- politics, entertainment, religion, education and sports. There is not a single area of life that feels safe anymore. This is the reason healthy families and good fathers are so important. As far as it depends upon you, see that whoever is in your sphere of influence is in a safe place to grow and to learn.
Children need to learn wisdom, compassion and balance from the adults in their lives in an environment they can trust. They need adults who are engaged in their lives and can help them through the complications and challenges they will face.
There are no better texts concerning advice from fathers to children (specifically sons here) than Proverbs 1-9. The New Testament gives us some guidance on attitudes such as "not provoking children to anger" (Ephesians 6:4) and "living considerately with your wife, (I Peter 3:7), but Proverbs gives the direct teaching of wisdom. Here are some examples:
On thankfulness from Prov. 3:9-10, "Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine."
On faithfulness from Prov 4:15, 18, "Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well ... rejoice in the wife of your youth."
On humility from Prov. 3:7-8, "Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones."
Fathers, "Make America (and the world) Safe." I don't finish that as expected because I don't know if it ever has been. But if you are reading this -- do your part.
Happy Fathers' Day!
Sean Niestrath lives and ministers in Madisonville. You may contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.