Do you believe that fathers are disposable in our society today? Many people do, but I do not. I believe that God created us as male and female for a very important reason and that reason is for his children to be reared in homes headed by a father and a mother. I believe fathers hold a very important place as the leader or head of the home with mothers as the heart. I believe that families can survive without fathers in the home but have great difficulty in prospering.
Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, reminded us of the importance of married biological fathers in the home: "Dads are disposable. This is the story now being told in certain precincts of our culture, from the Hollywood Hills - `Women are realizing it more and more, knowing that they don't have to settle with a man just to have that child,' in the words of Jennifer Anniston - to the Ivy League - Cornell psychologist Peggy Drexler recently wrote a book, Raising Boys Without Men, that celebrated women raising children without fathers.
"There is only one problem with this story: it is a myth that does not fit the facts.
"Do not get me wrong. I was raised by a single mom, and I think I turned out OK, as do many children raised in fatherless homes. But as a social scientist, I can also tell you that one consistent conclusion from hundreds of studies on child well-being is this: on average, children are much more like to thrive when they have the good fortune to be raised in a home with their own married father."
My father was a product of a "broken home" because his parents divorced when he was twelve. The divorce was the culmination of years of separation and contention, but it did not stop the violence of a father toward his son. He wrote in his autobiography, "My Mother has written in her story that she was a discarded wife and I think now that is about the way I felt. The son of an unloved wife and I think I grew up with an inferiority complex - one to be worked as much as possible and given as little as possible. I think this has had a great effect in my life. I remember many mornings getting up and making the fire in the cook stove, doing the chores, and going to school without any breakfast because no one else was up to fix any and no one cared."
I did not know my paternal grandfather because he passed away before I was born, and I do not want to appear as though I am judging him or his fathering. I can however state that Dad learned to be a father by personal experience rather than by following the example of his father. Dad chose to set a different course than the one chosen by his own father. He chose a life of spirituality and obedience to the commandments of God; he kept his baptismal, marital, and temple covenants. He set the highest standards of temple and family history work. He became a giant in righteousness, and his many descendants honor him as a great patriarch.
Dad taught us to become the best people we could be. He told us not to judge our parents and grandparents and taught us that each generation should be better than the preceding one. He lived his beliefs and became a good father and grandfather. Just as my father grew and became a better man as the years passed, my view of Dad changed over the years. I wrote the following poem for my dad as a gift for Father's Day about 1977-1978, and I think it pleased him very much.
I used to think he was old and mean,
But as I grew up, I became more keen.
Hard work and lectures and spankings too
Were what I needed to be good and true.
He set the example, working hard all day.
He always told us, "Work before play."
This is a lesson I'm glad I learned
For now I can teach it in return.
He tilled the soil and planted the seed,
"If we don't sow, we cannot reap."
Life on the farm was hard and long,
But twelve little children grew up strong.
Although he was busy, he worked for the Lord.
He held many positions in our ward.
Genealogy and weekly temple work
Are some of the duties he does not shirk.
He sets good examples for our family.
And he always counsels, "Be better than me."
With a father like mine, it's easy to see
Just how much my Heavenly Father loves me.
Many good men and women come out of broken homes, but I think they do so with great effort. The greatest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother. The next greatest gift is to love the children unconditionally. I am grateful that my children survived my education on being a mother; I am also very grateful that my grandchildren are being reared in homes where their fathers take an active part in the teaching and training of the children. Fathers are a very important part of their children's lives, and they are not disposable!