A co-worker of mine was sharing recently that her son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first child. She said that he was reading about becoming an effective father and that the article he read said that there was one quality that research had shown was most important in predicting the well-being of children. That quality was a stable, loving relationship between the parents. In other words – the best thing a father can do to help his children become well-adjusted and happy is to love their mother.
This makes sense on many levels. If the parents are loving and supportive of one another, this is certainly a positive example for the children. There will also be a sense of security if the parents have a stable, committed relationship. One of the worst things that can happen to a child is for that child to believe that she is the center of the universe. If the parents are investing in their relationship with each other, the child will learn that real love is not selfish, but can be shared among family members and multiplied.
We were encouraged early on in our marriage to make time for each other and to keep our relationship a priority. I must admit that it was not always easy to do this. We had four children in 4 1/2 years. Phil was working at the university library as well as serving in leadership in our church. I was staying home with our children after having taught school for 3 years before our first child was born. I wanted to stay home and be a full-time homemaker, yet there were times when I tried to mentally calculate how much I would have to make in salary to pay for childcare for four children – and still have some money left. I’m not sure such a job existed in our rural community! I would hear “experts” talk about keeping romance alive in your marriage by having a date night. Right! When we only had enough money to make our house payment and buy groceries, a date night was not going to happen!
Looking back on those days one of the biggest blessings to me was that we were not alone. We had some very good friends that also had limited financial resources. They too desired to invest in their families. We would get together for picnics in the National Park, a cook-out at someone’s house, or share meals on the spur of the moment. Those times of fellowship with others did not cost anything (we would have eaten anyway) but they sure paid off in enjoying each other as families.
We now tease each others’ children that we helped raise them, and in part that is true. But more than anything, these families modeled Godly relationships for our children, as well as their own. Each of these fathers loved their children, but more than that they loved their wives. Their good example is a treasure that has paid off in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
I was blessed with Godly parents and grandparents. They loved me and prayed for me. My father and both my grandfathers loved their wives. I grew up expecting that was the norm. My husband did not grow up in a Christian home, his father did not honor his mother and love her respectfully. There was much turmoil and dysfunction in his family. Yet Phil has been a loving husband and a wonderful father to our four children. This is because he has committed his life to God as his Heavenly Father. Phil has allowed Biblical standards to guide his relationships in our home. We have three sons-in-law that are Godly young men who love and respect our daughters and are such a blessing to us! This is the evidence of God’s grace and redemption. Even though Phil did not have a Godly example, his desire to follow God’s plan has resulted in blessing for our family.
We are not perfect, our marriage is not perfect, our children are not perfect, and our grandchildren ARE perfect. Just kidding…they are amazing….but not perfect. Yet because of God’s love and grace, our family is blessed with the love we have for each other.
Ephesians 5: 25-28 (NLT) challenges husbands in this way;
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.
The best Father’s Day Gift is love, and the best thing a father can do for his family is to love his wife!