Fathering and Faith
"The most important...work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes."-Harold B. LeeContent
OverviewFaith in God is a source of strength, comfort and direction for many fathers.When a father sees his duty to his child as both temporal and spiritual he is likely to hold the father-child relationship sacred. The sacred nature of this relationship can motivate a father to exercise his own faith while assisting his child develop a faith in God as well. The following stories exemplify how faith in God strengthens father-child bonds. The people who have given us these stories consider them sacred and so it is our hope that you will read them with that perspective. We want to show the possibilities for interweaving faith and fathering and do not intend to prescribe a certain form of religious worship.
Most of the stories in this section illustrate Spiritual work, as fathers help their children find meaning in life. Through a bedtime prayer and a soft hymn the father in the following story shares his faith with his baby girl.
*"In the division of labor in our home it has fallen upon me to put the 18-month old baby of our family to sleep at night. Emily and I feel so close to each other at this time on the edge of dreams... I take her in my arms and we say a prayer thanking God for the beautiful world and her wonderful family and for each sibling and parent and grandparent and everything else. . . and then ask for a peaceful night's sleep. Finally, we go around and say, 'night-night' to all the pictures on the wall. 'Night-night cow. Night-night Jack and Jill. Night-night Humpty Dumpty.' Near the light switch is a beautiful picture of Jesus. He is the last one we see and we kiss Him good night. Then I kiss Emily good night. Then comes the moment of truth. 'Emily, turn the light off.' She usually reaches over and flips the switch. Occasionally she'll balk, but not more than one or twice a month. In the darkness I hold her close and sing, 'I am a Child of God.' I feel her relax and sometimes hear her hum along. . . Bedtime is my favorite time with Emily. I think this ten minute ritual does more in less time to strengthen the father-daughter bonds of love than anything else we do together."
Mark 9:36-37 - "And he [Jesus] took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me. . ."
Story used with permission from Jeff Hill, editor of DAD/S
In the following account by a teenage daughter we see the impact of a father's compassionate prayer in her behalf.
"I was having a very difficult time accepting the fact that I had to leave all my friends and school activities in Huntington Beach and move to Washington. I still had two years left in high school and I was feeling very cheated that I had to leave behind all that I loved and start over again. One night I was particularly upset--more than usual. I was crying almost uncontrollably and went to my mom and sister for consolation. I pleaded with them and tried to tell them that I just couldn't move. I did not know how I could handle it. I felt as though I was in the depths of despair. They could offer no sympathy for me because they saw my display as childish and selfish. I wasn't the only one moving but I seemed to be only concerned with my own problems. I felt even more desperate and just sort of collapsed on the couch in my sobbing. I didn't really remember falling asleep but I remembered being awakened much later by my father. He was gentle and soothing. I didn't say anything and he simply had compassion on me. He said that if there were any other way they could make it easier on me they would. Then he asked if we could say a prayer together. He said a sweet prayer that I might be okay through the move. Then I went back to sleep. From that time on my attitude began to change 180 degrees."
Malachi 4:6 - ". . . turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers . . ."
By keeping our children in our thoughts and following impressions from the Spirit, fathers may bless their children's lives in miraculous ways.
"I remember one of the first times my father allowed me to take the car to the Salt Lake City area... all went well until the trip home. As we got closer to the Point of the Mountain my car lost power. I was only able to go about 40 miles an hour in fifth gear. If I shifted down, the car would go slower. I was able to make it past the Point of the Mountain, but it got worse and worse as I went along. By the time I was close to the American Fork exit I had hardly any power at all. I pulled off, but was unable to make it up the off ramp that went up. A big truck came along and pushed me up the hill and I was able to coast into the Hart's gas station nearby. I called home to have my dad come and get me but my sister told me that my mom and dad had just left to go shopping with my aunt and uncle. I knew they wouldn't be home for quite a while. I gave my sister the telephone number and told her to have him call me when they got home. I would just have to wait.
"I hadn't been off the phone with my sister for more than two minutes when the pay phone rang. I answered it thinking that it couldn't be for me, but it was my dad. I asked him how he had gotten my number so fast, because I knew he couldn't be home yet. He said he just felt like he ought to call home and followed that prompting immediately. He had called home and gotten my number in only a few minutes from the time I had called for help. Incredible! He was there a little bit later and was able to take me home. This story reflects a lot about the relationship I have with my dad. It shows me how worried and concerned my father is for me. He cared about me and sacrifices for me. He is involved in my life. Even if he is not right there with me, he is always thinking about me and worried for my well being. He is also very in tune with the Spirit because he knows when something is wrong and he acts on the promptings he receives."
John 14:26 - 27 -"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things. . . Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you...Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
A father's expression of his faith in God and gratitude toward Him can deeply influence his children in meaningful ways.
"On a Sunday afternoon, shortly after the beginning of the year, my Dad called me and said, 'Son, do you have time for me to share something with you?' I said,'Sure.' Dad explained that he had never been big on New Year's resolutions but that he had adopted his own tradition of sitting down alone after Christmas and making a list of blessings God had given him throughout the previous year. He said that this year he had taken some extra time and read through lists from years passed and had felt the desire to write a 'psalm' about his own life. My Dad then read me his psalm . . . it spoke of deathly illnesses from which he recovered and a safe return from service in Vietnam . . . but mostly it expressed his gratitude to God for his wife and children and for the rich joy they had brought him. His gratitude and deep love for God and his family seemed to take hold of me and shake me to a realization of my blessings. I'm grateful to God for giving me my Dad and I'm grateful to my Dad for helping to give me God."
Isaiah 54:13 - "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;and great shall be the peace of thy children."
Psalms 127:3-5 - "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of the mighty man; so are the children of youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. . ."
The father in the following account relates how his faith literally gave his child life.
"Li Chen was born in 1988 while I was at BYU and at the time I was not an LDS Church member. However, I did believe that we did come from heaven and I did believe in God... When my wife was pregnant with Li Chen at that time we were thinking of going back to China. There was not an alternative. Everyone was thinking of going back to China. We are the very first couple from mainland China in this area (at BYU) to have a second child. Many people offered us counsel or suggestions to go to Salt Lake City and have an abortion, etc., so that when we went back to China we wouldn't get in trouble. I just said that was wrong. I said that I was willing and ready to sacrifice whatever was necessary, even though it might cost me my academic future when we went back to China, since we knew that we would be punished and not have any promotions. Even at that time I was ready to sacrifice. I said, "I want this child, because I believe that she came from heaven, and there is no reason not to have her." I am glad that my wife listened to me and we didn't go for an abortion. She is very precious in my life because of that special experience."
Matthew 6:19-21 - "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasurs is, there will your heart be also."
This touching experience exemplifies how two shared bonds, one with God and another with children/grandchildren, helped an adult son and his dying father reconcile and find mutual peace.
"In the process of dying my father was ill and would frequently call us over to be with him. I can't think of a specific moment, but it was just those times that he called us over to talk about religious things with us. He always called for a blessing. That was basically our relationship--either arguing over a gospel topic or discussing it, one way or the other.....He always wanted... his immediate children, to finish music lessons and none of us took more than a year or two. But his grandkids have excelled in music and so as he was dying, within a month of his death, they took a flute and violin over there and two of the girls played for him. That was somehow a connection between him and me and them, and so it was... an emotional time because I knew that it meant something deep to him. For me it's reconciliation, because we didn't have an open relationship as an adolescent and a parent. I was able to kiss him and hug him while he was dying. Everything just melted away and there were no more bad feelings. . ."
Proverbs 17:6 - "Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers."
ConclusionFatherWork involves turning one's heart to a child in faith, hope and charity by acting in ways that bless and keep (Malachi 4:5,6). Faithful, generative fathering consists of a father exercising faith in God and faith in his children, hoping for all that is good for children and working to make those hopes a reality, and showing pure love for children by giving them many good gifts (Matthew7:11). A father of faith recognizes that "his" children are entrusted to him by God and therefore he views his stewardship over them as significant and sacred. A father who consecrates and dedicates his life to his children will find a profound joy. Through continual love and service, wise direction, and patiently bearing with children through life's challenges, a father can turn his children's hearts to their Father in Heaven and be God's instrument in bringing them an abundant life blessed with peace.More metaphors about fathering
Learning and Application ActivitiesPlease complete one of the following: