Faith in Parenting

Celebrating the Impact of Great Dads

In this day and age, we sadly live in a culture that under-appreciates the value of family. In a world where a family is described in so many different ways, entire roles are eliminated or redefined in ways that God never intended. Unfortunately, the family member that, I feel, has been grossly under-valued, under-encouraged, and almost forgotten is the active and present Dad. They are out there, I promise, I am actually married to one! And while I try to remind him how great he is as often as possible, the truth is I can never tell him enough how amazing it is that he is so involved in the lives of our children.

The key title I am talking about is “Active” Dad. Sure, everyone has a father…we all had to get here some how right? But a present, active father is something to be excited about. It is the Dad who talks to his kids in the car while driving them to school, rather than taking a work call on his phone. It is a father who insists his family gets up on Sunday and goes to church, every week. It is the father who reads to his children at night, helps them with homework, meets the boyfriend…several times, asks the hard questions, and says NO. It is the Dad who chooses family over work when necessary, yet is able to teach his children a strong work ethic. An active Dad is just that, active. He shows up in every aspect of his children’s lives, whether it is dating, school, friendships, or spirituality. Like I said, this guy is one to be excited about. Praise God, my children have one.

The statistics regarding the impact of an active father on his children are astounding. According to the book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know, the influence of fathers supersedes all other external influences. Author and Physician Meg Meeker gives some startling statistics that, if we really pay attention, could revolutionize our society. When a father is engaged in the lives of their young children, they are more likely to be better at problem solving, manage school stress better, and have better mental development (Meeker, 23).

Even more amazing is the impact active Dads have on the lives of their little girls. According to Meeker, the following statistics are just a few relating to father-daughter relationships (23-24):

  • Girls whose fathers provide warmth and control achieve higher academic success, are less likely to drop out of school, and are more likely to attend college.
  • Girls who are close to their fathers exhibit less anxiety and withdrawn behaviors.
  • Girls with present fathers they feel connected with are more assertive and have fewer instances of body dissatisfaction, depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and unhealthy weight.
  • Girls with involved fathers are less likely to flaunt themselves for male attention, tend to wait longer to initiate sex, and have a lower risk of teen pregnancy.

These are just a few examples of how an active and loving father can change the direction of a girl’s life. Imagine if more dad’s step up…it would truly change the world! So, hooray for each of our great Dads out there. Let them know how special and valuable they are when you meet one. If you have one, tell him how wonderful he is. Great Dads truly DO make the world a better place. Happy Father’s Day to all of you great Dad’s out there…keep fighting for our daughters, and raising our sons to be fathers like you.

Carissa Hardage is a Licensed Masters of Social Work, who worked as a Clinician in outpatient child and family therapy. She left her professional life five years ago to be a career wife and mom to her three children, ages five, four, and nine months. You can read more from Carissa on her blog at www.teamhardage.blogspot.com.

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More than Survival: Freedom in letting go and letting GOD

Have you ever thought you were just living in survival mode? I often think I stay there. But, I believe I may finally have it figured out….we all STAY in survival mode! Just about the time we learn to work with what we have, life changes or throws us a curve and we have to learn to survive again.

Let me back up, I am a wife and mom of four children, ages seven, five, two and a half, and four months. I have been married for nine years. My husband and I were married in June 2003, he finished college that December and I finished the following May. We both started new jobs, then in August 2004, a little over a year after we were married, we found out we were pregnant with our first child. We had barely adjusted to married life and having real jobs, and suddenly we were going to add a third member to our family. Talk about survival! I think I walked around in a daze, when I could get up and walk around without morning sickness, for the first trimester. I really had no clue what I was doing, but God knew. He had a plan. I’m not really sure at that point I was ready to follow it. I wish I could say I was….

Isn’t it funny how our plans are not exactly His plans? Well, we bought our first house that year. Since then, we have had three other children, bought another house, experienced a few job changes, and each finished Graduate Degrees. Needless to say, we have learned A LOT about functioning with a family of six! Nine years and four children later, I often find myself still living in survival mode. My house doesn’t get cleaned very often, I step on toys almost every day, and I yell at my kids when I shouldn’t. My husband and I sometimes have trouble finding the time to sit and have a conversation without multiple interruptions, or one of us falling asleep. We spend as much time as we possibly can together as a family, and I am blessed to have a husband who is home by [4:30], with most of the summer off work. Its crazy and chaotic as we juggle school, karate lessons, church, swim lessons, and all the other activities of our lives. We enjoy frequent visitors, as there seems to always be an extra person at our house, whether its my parents, our friends or our children’s friends. Funny how it seems like our family of six becomes more than that at times!

So, as I depend on God’s word and His guidance, here are a few of the lessons I have learned in the midst of the survival mode:

1. Philippians [4:19] says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” I have had the opportunity to be home with my children for two years. It doesn’t really make sense on paper, but God has always provided everything we need, including the friends to walk along life with.

2. God has a plan for me and my family, even though it isn’t always the same as my plan! Jeremiah [29:11] “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I only have to be willing to follow Him.

3. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” Phillipians [4:13]. Amazingly, I can do a lot when I rely fully on Him. I can live on little sleep, buy groceries on a small budget, and persevere through those long and hard days with my children.

4. My privilege and responsibility as a mom to my four children is to train them in the Lord. This means teaching them scripture through everything we do and helping them understand what it means. It is my job to teach them who Jesus is and to model what it is like to walk with Him. The bible says I will be held accountable for what they are taught. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” We have a bible verse box in our kitchen and every verse we learn at home, at church, or anywhere else, we put in there to read, talk about, and try to memorize. We try to sit as a family and read the bible every day.

5. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test & approve what Gods will is, His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” This is our family verse. We are teaching this to our children and explaining to them that in a crazy, busy world, we are not called to keep up with everyone else. We would rather have less so I can be at home, and so we can spend more time as a family teaching and training in what matters most. This can be a hard decision when we look at others who may have or do a lot more than we do.

My family and I are definitely not perfect, we have good days and we have bad days. A blog I read recently said that we are sinners, covered by grace, raising little sinners. The biggest thing I can do is pray and seek Him to help me be the best wife and mom I can be. I also pray for my children, their salvation and spiritual walk, their friends they grow up with, and their future friends, spouses, and families. Prayer and God’s word are the only ways we could possibly live a life that is more than survival.

Angela Harris is a former school teacher who recently left her profession to stay at home with her two boys and two girls. She and her husband have been married nine years and currently reside in Jonesboro, AR.