First, illegitimate births, i.e., children born of parents who are not lawfully married. A commitment to marriage naturally strengthens a man’s commitment to his children. The reason millions of children today have never lived with their biological fathers is because of unwed pregnancy.
Second, divorce. Couples in previous generations would stay together for the sake of the children. But this generation has somehow been convinced that kids are better off if their unhappy parents get a divorce. The convenience of “no-fault” divorce has come at an extremely high price. Children suffer deeply as a consequence of divorce.
Third, work. Before the Industrial Revolution (18th and 19th century) fathers primarily worked at or near their homes. For hundreds of years, their faith and values were passed down to the next generation as children worked alongside their fathers.
However, when the Industrial Revolution hit high gear in the 1800s, factories sent men off to work, leaving their children at home with mom. This culture shift negatively impacted the influence of fathers. When dad finally got home, he was too tired to engage, and his family got the leftovers of his time and attention.
Even today, we fathers must be careful not to allow our jobs to take priority over our families. After all, it’s far more important to have “a life” than to make “a living.”
Fourth, entertainment. Men today will spend more time watching TV or surfing the Internet than in meaningful conversation with their wives and children. Every hour a man is focused on his TV screen or computer monitor, he is not looking into the faces and speaking into the lives of his family. And if they are “with” dad while he’s being entertained, then the television, not dad, becomes their influence. Hollywood is a lousy role model for children.
Fifth, the feminist movement. The feminist movement has openly stated that one of its primary goals is to dismantle all forms of male leadership in the family or home. Under the guise of “equal rights” for women, feminists have swung the pendulum to the other extreme by seeking to downplay the importance of fathers.
“[God] will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children,” declares the Old Testament prophet Malachi, “and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:6).
(Jessie J. Charpentier Sr. is pastor of Jenkins Memorial Baptist Church in St. Martinville.)