Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Work of Fathers

Today is Father’s Day in the U.S. and I would like to share some of my thoughts on being a father and now a grandfather. I have been a father for 41 years and a grandfather for 15 years. A lot has changed since I became a father in the mid 70’s. Those where the days of the Walkman, 8-track tapes, and VCRs. To play video games you had to go to the Arcade where they had Pong, Pac Man, and Space Invaders. There was no Internet, cell phones, or personal computers. Apple was only a fruit and long distance calls cost a lot of money. My children had it good compared to what we had as children. We had to listen to music on records, to see a movie we had to go to a movie theater, we had one of the first TVs and it was only black and white, and even though the microwave oven was invented in 1946 we never had one. Each generation wants their children to have a better life than they had when they were growing up. 

Our children invented most of their games, playing outside in the field and trees behind our yard. We played board games like Risk, Monopoly, Shoots and Ladders, and Life. They used their imaginations to invent places and people they would be. Today my grandchildren play many of the same games but they are now played on their tablets, phones, or computers.

Times have changed for our children and grandchildren, but fathers are still mainly concerned about the same things; providing for their family, keeping their children safe, and helping their children develop emotionally and spiritually. Many fathers spend most of their time away from their children working to provide all the things that they need. They wish they could be there more for the sports, dance recitals, camping trips, or simply just sitting and talking about the things that matter most to children. For young families, income is another thing that often is in short supply because their careers are just beginning and the wages are lower. I often wished we could figure out how to pay families a higher income during the time that children were home and there are more financial demands and less as the children leave home and there are less income needs.

In “The Family:A Proclamation to the World” we are taught that families are the most important unit in time and eternity. We are taught the role that fathers and mothers share in raising their children.

“THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

One of the joys of being a grandfather is that I can help my children with the struggles they are going through with their children. While not all grandparents are retired, we generally have more free time and hopefully a little more flexible income. I can’t wait until I retire (just one more year) because I will be able to spend more time with my grandchildren doing many of the things that I did not do because I was too busy working. I enjoy being able to spend the time throwing the football with my 12-year-old grandson and playing hide and seek with my four-year-old grandson when I come home. I can’t wait until I can spend as much time with them as they want once I am retired. We love to go camping and watching them participate in youth sports.

This is what fathers and grandfathers do. They protect, provide, teach, and help our children grow up to become parents of their own children. We all wish we had more time to spend with our children. We want the best for them. We hurt when they make the wrong choices and suffer the consequences of their choices. We suffer with them when they come home crying because someone was mean to them at school, got picked last, don’t make the team, or missed the last shot to win the game. While we feel empathy for them in these situations, we know that these experiences will help build character and as they suffer they become stronger.

The Lord speaking to Moses said: “this is my work and glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). If this is our Heavenly Father’s work, shouldn’t this be every father’s work. - to bring our children back into the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.? We are all children of our Heavenly Father and he has sent them here to live with us so that we might teach them of their royal heritage; that their destiny is to qualify to live eternally with God and Christ. We need to prepare for them to receive the saving ordinances of baptism and the temple where we are become families that last throughout all eternity.

This should be the most important work we do. We can provide a comfortable home that is safe, we can teach them the importance of hard work, and to be good citizens; but if we fail to teach our children faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and baptism then we will fail in our primary responsibility as fathers.

Our work as fathers is never done. Even when our children are grown and leave home we still be involved in their lives encouraging them to continue to live righteously and teach their children to follow their examples. We are also there to help as much as we can and be there for our grandchildren. If Heavenly Father’s work is not done until all his children are brought back to his presence, then our work as fathers is not done until our children, grandchildren and all the generations to come have made it back to their eternal home with us.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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