Our nation needs fathers.
The other night, I had been cradling my fourteen-month-old son while saying bedtime prayers. I am home with Peter all day. He knows me better than anyone in the world. We have a bond beyond comparison, as all children and mothers do. But when we finished prayers and it was time for him to settle down for sleep, what do you think he did? He leapt into his Daddy’s arms.
Joshua has to go to work five days a week. He only sees Peter for a few hours a day and on the weekends. Yet, those two also have a bond beyond comparison. Peter admires and loves his father. He squeals with delight when Joshua comes home after waiting by the door for him. Peter crawls around to follow his Daddy through the house. He wants to “push” the lawn mower with him, water the plants, and grill the food on the weekends. Daddy is who he wants to be the last person to hold him before he goes to sleep.
It melts my heart with joy to see my son curl up on my husband’s chest and fall asleep. As jealous as I can get when I’ve spent all day caring for him and I don’t get the best cuddles at night, it’s so much more fulfilling to watch my boys love each other.
I have been slowly learning since having Peter that mothers and babies always love each other. Mothers grow them, birth them, nurture them. For several months, children have no understanding that they are separate persons from their mothers. We are bonded uniquely in a way that makes us one for a long time, and we are only gradually separated. But fathers are different. Fathers are generally foreign to babies. Perhaps the child is familiar with Daddy’s voice by the time they’re born, but fathers really are just thrown into the equation for the newborn.
Children have an instinct to love their mothers; fathers are different. Their fathers almost have to “earn” their affection. It’s unfortunate, as I know many friends who are struggling to connect with their babies. But that struggle means: a father can be the first person a child learns loves them back.
Fathers teach children they are worth loving. Fathers give children a person to learn how to love, too. It’s an incredible challenge, and I admire all the men I know who have risen to it and are still growing through it. They are coming in, without the unique bond the mother already has, and teaching their babies they love them, they will care for them, they are safe for them; and their children get to learn how to love someone independent of that special bond.
Our nation is collapsing under the weight of false pretenses of love. In accordance, rates of fatherless homes are skyrocketing. Children are not being taught the choice of love when they do not have a father present in their lives. And without the example of loving fathers in our families, how can any of us truly comprehend the love of our Heavenly Father?