When I was four, my father fastened a swing onto the large branch of a massive oak tree in our front yard. In its shade, close to its protective trunk, he constructed a sandbox. These two items served as magnets to every child within a block’s radius. As a result, I was seldom without company. But even more than the companionship of other children, I enjoyed the times Daddy pushed me on the swing.
That was magic—just Daddy and I, the two of us together! After he lifted me into the seat, he grabbed the rope and then backed up until I was as high as he could reach—it seemed to me at least 10 feet off the ground! There he held me for a few seconds while I eagerly anticipated his signal: “Here goes!” Then, with a mighty shove that nearly scooted the swing from under me, Daddy sent me arcing to the treetop.
Back and forth, with Daddy pushing and me kicking, each urging the other to greater efforts, our laughter mingling in the balmy summer air, we shared the excitement of reaching for the sky. Higher and higher I climbed—reaching the knothole that protruded like a belly button midway between the ground and the spot where the trunk branched off.
Throughout my childhood, my father stood behind me, cheerfully urging me upward, laughing at my excitement, crying at my sorrows, always eager to listen. Now I am grown and live far from my earthly father. But I still have loving support because he taught me to take my laughter, sorrow, and trials to my Heavenly Father. And I still reach for the sky.”
This story was told by Terry Chapman
from San Diego whose father’s influence stayed with him all his life.
Fathers complete the circle of a family. Children need the presence of their fathers. Imagine two sons living in two separate families. Two parents raise the one son and only the mother raises the other. All are good people and do the best that they can. The son with both parents have the example of a father who loves his mother and treats her well as well as the example of taking care of his own children, where as the other son has no example of what fathers do at all and grows up lacking something he never really had.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes called Mormons, wrote what is now referred to as The Family: A Proclamation to the World
which was read to the general women’s meeting back on September 23, 1995. In this proclamation, Church leaders declared the importance of children needing fathers as well as mothers. “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” Fathers are important.
Children need the protection and influence of their fathers. With this security of fathers comes the feeling of safeness. With this safeness, there is great comfort in being able to communicate to fathers, which builds a lasting relationship. Not everyone can be so open with their father but there are more opportunities of bridging the gap of a relationship when Dad sticks around for the duration of a child’s life. Parents.com brings out an important point. “A father’s love is just as important to a child’s development as a mother’s, and sometimes more so, suggests a new review of about 100 studies published between 1949 and 2001. Researchers found that, overall, the love — or rejection — of mothers and fathers equally affects kids’ behavior
, self-esteem, emotional stability, and mental health.”
Taking on the role of father does take effort. It’s a sacrifice and very time consuming but the rewards are many by the time a child becomes an adult. There are many great examples fathers who loved their children and taken the time to be with their children.
Building Strong Families
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Those teens who have a father in their home might not appreciate what they have now, but wisdom comes with age and appreciation of a father’s sacrifice will surface eventually. Mark Twain said it perfectly: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
Fathers are important and we need them. Leaders of my church tell us how important fathers are
, “It must be emphasized that as a father, you are always teaching. For good or ill your family learns your ways, your beliefs, your heart, your ideas, your concerns. Your children may or may not choose to follow you, but the example you give is the greatest light you hold before your children, and you are accountable for that light.”
Let’s honor our fathers this Sunday with a card or phone call or both. If your father isn’t here then honor the one who is a father to you and be a great Dad to those in your family and circle of friends.
About Valerie Steimle
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely.
To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.
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