During the course of one week, I had the opportunity to twice witness father-and-son interactions that give me hope for future generations.
The first encounter took place at a retail establishment. While I was waiting in line for the cashier, a father and son entered the store with packaged goods and delivered them to the store office. When I finalized my purchase and stepped toward the exit, this father and his son approached the door at the same time. We all stopped. I gestured for the son to follow his father out of the store, but the father told his son, “Let the lady go first.” The son stood still, respectfully looked at his father, then at me. It struck me that here was a father teaching his son, by example, how to serve the community and how to be a gentleman. “Thank you,” I said, before exiting the store. I pondered, “How many of today’s problems would be averted if every father made the effort to train his child in this way?”
Within a week, while leaving a movie theater, a similar situation occurred. As I walked toward the exit, I came across a man who was holding the door open; a young boy was standing inside. The two exchanged glances and the man motioned for me to exit. The boy stood still until I passed through the doorway before he too left. Once outside, they chatted about the movie and what they would do next. This time, my sense of hope were piqued.
It is important to mention that these father-son family units were of different ethnic backgrounds. In a cultural climate where much rhetoric is expressed against one or another’s ethnicity, what I witnessed is the powerful, positive influence of lovingly engaged fathers in action. Today’s children need committed fathers who are intentional in the way they discipline and train them.
These are the things I learned from my encounters:
- Fathers deserve our respect. For too many years, our culture has relegated men to the unnecessary heap in regard to families. That is not God’s plan, and as we can see in our culture, the idea that fathers are not needed to raise children simply does not work. Also, please ignore any preconceived notions that exist about ethnicities.
- Many good fathers are giving their all to raise their children to be respectable gentlemen and ladies. In the future, when I am in a situation where it is appropriate, I will thank the father for the good work he is doing in the presence of his child. Children need to see their fathers being respected for fulfilling their role in a godly manner.
- Families matter. I believe it is time to encourage young men and women to marry, and stay committed to each other in the Lord, before they have children. That means I must be willing to share my life experiences with them, including how God helped me and my husband through the tough times by relying on God. Transparency counts.
I am now intentionally observing how fathers interact with their children wherever I go in public. It is heartening to see fathers of young boys or girls patiently listening to them, giving their child a gentle hug, or carefully explaining something to them. Raising sons and daughters is a challenge, but the best of men are out there giving it everything they have. I appreciate them, and I hope you do too.