Of all the roles a man can have, nothing supersedes the role of father. A father should be a provider, a leader, a teacher, and always a friend to his children. We are reminded of the saying; “The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” It seems as though society has suffered because so many fathers have abdicated their roles and responsibilities in the family. As fathers, why do some feel at times that success somehow lies outside the home? Why do we think that things and money make up for not spending time with our children? It is time to evaluate our lives and recognize what matters most—our family. We simply cannot let the world take us away from our greatest treasure: our marriage and family.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4). There is no greater joy than having joy in your posterity. The righteous lives of offspring are the joy of a parent’s life. We as parents—both fathers and mothers—are responsible for the teaching of our families.
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). As we lead and teach our children, we should adopt a loving yet firm manner. One cannot afford generating resentment or anger among the children in the teaching process. Such would render the process of being good no longer enjoyable for the children, which might result in rebellion rather than obedience.
“Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9). Giving correction is one of the most difficult things we do as parents and especially as a father. It is our duty to correct as moved upon by the Holy Ghost early on and with clarity so that there is no misunderstanding, always in love. In correcting the children, we must ensure that they know and hopefully feel that it is always done in love. They need to know that the only reason you ever correct them is because you care for them and love them.
“Our homes should be havens of peace and joy for our families. Surely no child should fear his own father . . . . A father’s duty is to make his home a place of happiness and joy. He cannot do this when there is bickering, quarreling, contention, or unrighteous behavior.
“As fathers of our homes, we have a serious responsibility to assume leadership in the home. We must create homes where the Spirit of the Lord can abide. We must not allow Satan to be an influence in our homes.
“We must be more Christlike in our attitude and behavior than what we see in the world. We should be as charitable and considerate with our loved ones as Christ is with us. He is kind, loving, and patient with each of us. Should we not reciprocate the same love to our wives and children?” (Ezra Taft Benson, Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 53).
“You men who are husbands and fathers should have had kindled in your hearts tonight . . . a resolve so to conduct yourselves in your homes as to be worthy of the love, the respect, the honor, the companionship of your wives and your children. . . . Each of us should go home this night with a stronger resolve in our hearts to live worthy of the companionship of those who love us most and whom we should love and honor and respect without reservation (“The Good and Faithful Servants,” Ensign, November 1984, p. 48).
“I repeat that plea to all fathers. Yours is the basic and inescapable responsibility to stand as head of the family. . . .
“[That] carries with it a mandate that fathers provide for the needs of their families. Those needs are more than food, clothing, and shelter. Those needs include righteous direction and the teaching, by example as well as precept, of basic principles of honesty, integrity, service, respect for the rights of others, and an understanding that we are accountable for that which we do in this life, not only to one another but also to the God of heaven, who is our Eternal Father. . . . With the obligation to beget goes the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth. Yours is the power and the responsibility to preside in a home where there is peace and security, love and harmony” (“Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go,” Ensign, November 1993, p. 60) (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 219–220).
Here are five things we can do to help us be better fathers:
1. Be a father with all your heart, mind, and soul.
- Never forget—Constantly remind yourself of your non-transferable role as father. You can’t delegate it. You can’t transfer it. It is your work. It is your joy and glory.
2. Establish your family on a foundation of enduring Christian principles.
- Have standards for the family.
- Be loving.
- Be honest.
- Be humble.
3. Teach by example.
- Strive for excellence—Excel in your profession to set an example of how to raise the bar of excellence in personal development and self-mastery.
- Learn continuously—Study and read. Take courses. Limit passive television time. Be prudent in how much time you devote to outside interests. Set an example of life-long growth and learning.
- Be a role model—Be an exemplar of honesty, integrity, and upright character.
4. Foster harmony and unity.
- Cultivate balance in family goals and activities—Include work and play, personal growth and development, health and fitness, and spiritual growth.
- Eat together as a family.
- Play together—Play games with your children. Get down on the floor with the younger kids and the grandkids.
- Create memories—Plan and carry out memorable outings together.
- Cultivate a sense of humor.
5. Use appropriate leadership principles. Aim high.
- Think big—Have a family “vision” and mission statement that can be written down and discussed. Set goals together and review them often.
- Listen—Plop down next to the kids from time to time and just listen. Be interested in what interests them. Nothing will enhance their self-esteem more than your sincerely listening to them.
- Reinforce good behavior—Praise and compliment sincerely. Always praise your children—honestly, sincerely, and regularly.
- Be grateful—Act surprised and amazed when they give you things. Make a tiny gift into a priceless treasure.
- Manage skillfully—Manage your time and your money carefully and involve the children in the process so that they learn how to invest precious resources wisely.
- Train and educate the children—Cultivate talents and productive hobbies. Allocate funds for lessons. Help them with schoolwork. Make learning a process of discovery rather than a chore. Become the rehearsal audience. Give constructive feedback.
The list could go on. Take time to make some goals and plans to be the best father for your family. There is no need for comparisons. You can be uniquely successful at it. No one can take our place as fathers. It is up to us to fulfill this magnificent role. Let’s do it. Fathers arise!
This article has been adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.