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Summary: In our society, dads have almost become irrelevant. But in God’s mind, fathers are almost indispensable. Find out why.

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OPEN: A writer named Donald Ogden Stewart, had a son away at prep school. When his son reached the age of 14, Stewart wrote him the following letter: "Dear son, now that you have reached the magic age of fourteen, the time has come to tell you about the flowers and the bees. There is a male and a female bee, although I haven’t the slightest idea which is which. As for the flowers - we get ours from the Plaza Florist. Well, that takes care of that.

Write soon, Affectionately, Father.

APPLY: Last week we talked about the significant influence women have on their children and grandchildren. This week, I want to talk about Fathers. What role do they play in raising their children.

I. Actually, in our society, you wouldn’t think men played much of a role at all in the family

Over the past 40 years or so:

– Divorce has become increasingly common, so much so that many children have been raised without a father.

– Feminism has gradually succeeded in questioned the value of men in marriage.

– In vitro fertilization has allowed women to have babies without a man.

– And now, science has even succeeded in producing a baby mouse – the offspring of two female mice… no daddy required at all.

Essentially – in our society - dads have become a throw away commodity

BY CONTRAST, the Bible repeatedly stresses the value of both mother and father in the home

· The book of Proverbs opens with these words:

"Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck." Proverbs 1:8-9

· And again, Solomon tells his son:

"My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching." Proverbs 6:20

Paul tells the early church that mother AND father are important to the upbringing of children, even when the husband is a non-believer.

“… if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 1 Corinthians 7:13-14

What in the world does this all mean? What it means is:

– God has placed a high value on BOTH a mother and a father being in the home..

– It means, that God believes - BOTH men and women have a valuable impact on - children’s lives

Biblically, Fathers ARE important in the home… more important than many people even realize

According to one study - children from a fatherless home are:

5 times more likely to commit suicide;

32 times more likely to run away;

20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders;

14 times more likely to commit rape;

9 times more likely to drop out of high school;

10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances;

and 9 times more likely to end up in state-operated institutions

ILLUS: In addition, reports of child neglect and abuse have skyrocketed since 1976. What caused that? Well, 1976 was about 10 to 15 yrs. after our nation embraced no-fault divorces. And, one of the greatest risk factors in child abuse, investigations found, is family disruption, especially living in a female headed, single parent household. It’s dangerous NOT HAVING a father in the home.

II. But, when the father is in the home… there are significant advantages

ILLUS: According to Prof. David Popenoe, professor of sociology at Rutgers University (1999)having a father in the house is extremely important. “Two adults can support and spell each other. They can offset each other’s deficiencies and build on each other’s strengths."

Daughters learn from their fathers, in ways they cannot from their mothers, how to relate to men. They learn from their fathers about heterosexual trust, intimacy and difference. They learn to appreciate their own femininity from THE one male who is most special in their lives. Most important, through loving and being loved by their fathers, they learn that they are love worthy.

Also, Prof. Popenoe writes: “We know that a fathers’ involvement seems to be linked to improved verbal and problem solving skills and higher academic achievement." A father’s presence appears to increase a son’s and a daughter’s skills at math and reading.

In addition, Prof. Popenoe notes that one significant area of a father’s influence in his child’s life is in the area of play. He writes that “From their children’s birth through adolescence, fathers tend to emphasize play more than caretaking. The father’s style of play is likely to be both more physically stimulating and exciting than the mother’s. With older children, it involves more teamwork.

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