As the father of three boys, the subject of “Fathers” isn’t lost on me. It’s a subject that often occupies my thoughts. There isn’t a handbook or class one can take to learn about being a father, so we’re all on our own — at least to some degree — to figure out how best to do it. It’s a “learn as you go” proposition.
I listened recently to a talk given by D. Todd Christofferson on the subject of fathers, some of which I’ll share here.
David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed: “Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.”
It seems that the role of fathers in society has dimmed over the last 20 or so years. Substitutes for fathers are oft spoken of and, without addressing those subjects one way or the other in this post, we must not ignore the fact that fathers play a vital role in the lives of our children.
Some see the good of fatherhood in social terms, as something that obligates men to their offspring, impelling them to be good citizens and to think about the needs of others, supplementing “maternal investment in children with paternal investment in children. … In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers.”5 While these considerations are certainly true and important, we know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.
D. Todd Christofferson
The use of the word “divine” is instructive. It imbues the subject with dignity, grace, reverence, sacredness. It implies God’s role in fatherhood. As used here, Elder Christofferson uses it to define “family” with a father and mother, caring for and loving their children. He uses it to show the relationship between “fatherhood” and God. Thus, when we speak about “fathers” we must also be free (and willing) to speak of its divine nature.
Perhaps the most essential of a father’s work is to turn the hearts of his children to their Heavenly Father. If by his example as well as his words a father can demonstrate what fidelity to God looks like in day-to-day living, that father will have given his children the key to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.9 A father who reads scripture to and with his children acquaints them with the voice of the Lord.
D. Todd Christofferson
As a father of four children, Elder Christofferson’s words offer insight as well as a reminder of my duty to a Heavenly Father. . . . a duty that extends well beyond this mortal existence.