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Barbara Walking in the Valley
A weekly column for those who live and walk in Silicon Valley

by Barbara Dahlgren


Do You Want Me to Go Get Your Father?
Column for the weeks of June 16-30, 2005

When our daughter Shelly was about 3 or 4, I was trying to get her to go to bed. It was difficult because we had company that evening. She really wanted to stay up later and join in the fun. I was desperate for reinforcement so I played my trump card. “Do you want me to go get your father?” I said.

Oooooo! The ultimate threat! How many times have we heard or used that one? “Do you want me to go get your father?” “I’m going to tell your Dad what you did?” “Boy, are you going to get it when Dad gets home!” “Wait until your father gets home!”

There was a time those statements had meaning.

Historically, fathers were viewed as wise disciplinarians, great patriarchs. They would go out into the world, make the money, provide for the household, and discipline the children when they got home. At one time this view was somewhat accurate. TV shows had intact families with fathers portrayed as leaders such as Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Happy Days, and The Waltons. Even if a family didn’t have a mother figure (though some moms were a bit out of touch with reality like June Cleaver doing housework dressed in heels and pearls), fathers seemed to have wisdom like in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father and The Andy GriffithShow. There was even an animated sit-com entitled Wait Until Your Father Gets Home in the 70s about father Harry Boyle coping with his family and wacky neighbors.

Then somewhere along the way the Boyles moved to make way for The Simpsons and the Al Bundys of the world as seen on Married with Children. Families became more openly dysfunctional, not just on TV…everywhere. Now, unfortunately, we have a society where fathers aren’t valued or even needed for reproduction, not as long as sperm banks available. Cloning may even do away with the need for their sperm. The wise father figure has virtually become a thing of the past, even though studies show children need fathers.

The professional journal, Review of General Psychology, found “evidence suggests that the influence of father love on offspring’s development is as great as and occasionally greater than the influence of mother love.” Fathers parent differently from mothers. This adds diversity and balance to a child’s life. A mother’s approach is one of caring for, whereas dads actually tend to be more playful. Mothers want to protect whereas fathers encourage kids to push the limits, which helps prepare them for the real world. The review goes on to say that children with highly involved fathers tend to be more “cognitively and socially competent.” In other words, they are more balanced and ready to face life.

By the same token, studies show that children without loving fathers have the higher potential for academic and relational problems. They also have an increased risk for delinquency.

Since fathers are role models, those who are abusive set the tone for future generations. Children repeat this cycle. So it’s obvious that fathers or lack of them definitely influences society.

From a religious perspective this negative image of fatherhood creates other problems, since a father is a metaphor for God throughout the Bible. People tend to view fathers with what they’ve experienced. This puts God at a disadvantage even though He represents the ultimate in fathers.

God knows everything about us (Matthew 10:29-31, Psalm 139:1-3) and loves us anyway (Psalm 139:1, 2). We were made in His image (Genesis 1:27). He is not distant (1 John 4:16). He likes to call us His children (1 John 3:1). He is willing to lavish gifts upon us (Matthew 7:11). He is our provider (Matthew 6:31-33). He has plans for our future (Jeremiah 29:11). He desires to teach us (Jeremiah 33:3). He encourages us (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). He comforts us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). There is nothing we can do that would make Him stop loving us (Jeremiah 31:3). We can come home again (Luke 15:7).

If you had a loving father, God is so much more! If you didn’t have a loving father, God is everything you wished you had. God is the perfect father (Matthew 5:48).

When I threatened Shelly with, “Do you want me to go get your father?” my plan backfired. Instead of being fearful, her little face lit up. You see, she didn’t fear her dad. She loved and trusted him. I knew then she would have an easier time than most in developing a relationship with God.

“I wish you would go get Dad,” she said. “I think he’d let me stay up just a little later.”

 

Be sure to visit this page often to read the next edition of Walking in the Valley. You can write to the author at bdahlgren@wcgsouthbay.org.

 

 

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