Everyone’s heard the term ‘fatherless generation’. It has become not only a common term but also a common and accepted trait of our generation. The term ‘Fatherless generation’ has almost become the scapegoat for many social, political outcomes but what does it mean and what should it mean to us as Christians? Does it affect our lives and are we taking it seriously enough? In essence Christian faith is built on that of a Father and His love for His children. So if we claim to be Christians we are in essence most certainly accountable to act and do something about a Fatherless generation.
If you Google ‘Role of a father’, this is the first answer that comes up:
“Children look to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength.”
So even from a secular point of view Fathers and Father figures have an important role to play in our current generation. Removing Fathers and Father figures from society will therefore obviously result in problems and some form of discord. We thought for this month’s blog we’d interview an iconic Father figure in the Christian community, Ian Grant, and see what he thinks about the term ‘fatherless generation’.
In February 2013, Ian Grant was awarded the title of ‘Senior New Zealander of the Year‘. The Governor General stated that Ian, along with his wife Mary, had impacted thousands of New Zealander’s lives over decades of leading parent education in New Zealand, including ground breaking work in establishing The Parenting Place and, more recently, Fathers Who Dare Win which has the express goal of changing the way New Zealanders perceive the role and practice of fathers in the kiwi family. Ian ran Youth for Christ for 33 years and is a sought-after speaker on Rhema radio, NZ television, and national conferences, service clubs, schools and church events. Ian and Mary have authored nine books between them, all of which have been best sellers in Australia and New Zealand.
You might wonder if fatherlessness is a made up thing or is it really a problem in our generation? Ian believes, yes, we are living in a secular generation where it seems to not matter whether you’re a mother or a father. People seem to assume that mothers and fathers can fill both roles and children only need one to be present. Ian however believes that fathers are totally different to mothers in their key roles that they play. He always says that one of a father’s primary roles is to protect mum. Dad protects mum and he is in love with mum and if kids know and see that they’ll follow his example.
Ian agrees that there is a massive undervaluation of dads in our current generation. Dads have lost their value and many women and children think ‘hey I don’t need a dad’. There has also been a great confusion on what a dad’s role is and because of this dads are deserting their families and neglecting their responsibility. Ian referred to a documentary he once watched and it ends with a six year old boy saying ‘Dad I love you wherever you are’. Children without dads have a hole in their lives.
Ian describes a dad’s role in families as the rock of the family. In Ian’s words Dads are supposed to be solid like the “Rock of Gibraltar” within their families. Did you know that Gibraltar has always been important as a military base because this is where the Mediterranean Sea narrows to only 14 kilometres at the Strait of Gibraltar? Gibraltar is most famous for The Rock of Gibraltar, a 426 meter high limestone rock rising out of the sea. The rock can be seen for many miles. If Dads are like the Rock of Gibraltar, they’ll always protect their wives and children will know to not mess with mum or else they’ll have to answer to Dad. Having solid fathers in families sets a president example of respect. This view is very different to the secular world who often believes that families and households just need a parent and that parent to play whatever role but there is a significant difference to how a mum will naturally parent versus to how a dad would naturally parent. This was God’s design from the start and if you fit these two natural parenting approaches together you’ll get a ‘whole’ approach.
Crime, violence and relatable social problems are a part of our daily lives in this generation and Ian highlights his amazement when switching on the News Channel when youth crimes are being reported, there is usually a parent being interviewed. “In most cases it’s a mother and I can’t help but ask myself, where is DAD?” A Mothers natural role as a parent is to nurture, love and shield. A Dads natural parenting approach usually demands a higher level of respect and responsibility.
Research in Christchurch in the year 2000 revealed that 65% of youth offenders were not living with their father. Statistics 2001 found that New Zealand had the developed world’s highest rate of births outside of marriage (44%), and the third-highest teenage birth rate (after the USA and UK). Nearly a third of all children grow up in fatherless homes. It is said that Fatherless children are worse off in terms of health, educational attainment, work ethics, and income and lifetime wealth. They are more prone to crime, drug addiction, divorce, unemployment, illness, truancy, suicide, poverty and depression.
Fathers have a core responsibility to play in the physical, mental and emotional health of families and as a result fatherlessness will obviously have a huge effect on spirituality. If a dad is a very distant dad, children could naturally assume God is distant too. If dad is too strict, children could naturally assume God is too and if dad is absent surely children can assume God is too. There is a direct link between absences of an earthly father to absence of a relationship with our heavenly Father. Ian describes fathers as “Dads are God with skin on”. If children have a great Dad and a great relationship with their dad it’ll be easier for them to have a great relationship with God too.
It is has become too common in our current generation for children to grow up Fatherless. As Christians this is something we can’t take lightly and an issue we shouldn’t neglect. This is all very alarming but we needn’t lose hope because God is the ultimate heavenly Father and in His word he promises “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Chor 12:9)
In Psalms He promises to watch over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless (Ps 146:9)
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