Devolution of a Father

God’s design for parenting is intricate, special, and perfect. In His creation we see a great plan unfolding for the care of children through roles uniquely designed for men and women. Parenting is perhaps the greatest struggle, and yet also the greatest privilege and joy that the Lord has bestowed upon us. Lamentably though, we see these God-ordained roles being fulfilled less and less.
Growing up I remember the role of fathers in particular being instilled into future generations. Statistics and information were thrown at us about the necessity and impact of a father’s role in the life of a child. Yet, after becoming a father, the same society that proclaimed a father’s importance also neglected the father’s role. While claiming to further the functions of fathers, society is actually making the problem worse.
This past week my daughter, who was all of ten days old, was hospitalized in the local hospital where I live. After placing her into their care, I was told I could only see her between the hours of 12pm – 1pm and 4pm – 5pm on weekdays. Even then, I was not actually allowed to visit her, but instead had to look at her through a window. I could come at 10:00am to get an update from the doctor, if the doctor chose to give one on that day. However, outside of these hours the door between my daughter and I would be locked and I could never enter. For four days I had no contact with my newborn child.
For many, it is easy to criticize and reason that the hospital I was dealing with is not in the United States and things are simply backward here. However, that’s not the case. While I never been barred from seeing my children in the hospital before, the basic premises and struggles are very similar to what I have faced in the States in which my role in my own child’s life has been limited.
As our children were born and we faced different circumstances, including hospitalizations now for two of our children within about 10 days of birth, I found myself to be increasingly frustrated as I was often ignored or treated with disdain. It was not uncommon to be told that my opinion did not matter, and only that of my wife’s. However, this treatment isn’t only found in the realm of doctors and nurses, but it seems to be true in other areas as well in schools and extracurricular activities, just to name some examples.
It has become apparent to me that society has created barriers for fathers that have limited our roles in the following ways:
  • Ability to Care: They have limited a father’s ability to care for his children by not allowing them involvement in major decisions of a child’s life.
  • Ability to Discipline: Consider how our society now dictates a father’s ability to even discipline his children (and they have not just limited physical discipline, but other forms also).
  • Ability to be Involved: In just these two examples we can see how society has simply limited a father’s effectiveness in his child’s life, limiting his ability to be actively engaged and involved in the raising up of a child.
We could spend pages and hours discussing the potential long-term consequences of such actions and limiting factors. However, the point is simply that we have put barriers in place between fathers and children.
Notable in this whole chain of regulations is the lack of critical thinking that seems to accompany them. Few take into account the fact that these rules contain the following characteristics:
  1. They are illogical: First, to claim that fathers need to be more involved and yet putting into place actions that limit that involvement betrays the rules of logic. In a blatant form this is hypocrisy, in a subversive form this is counter-intuitive.
  2. They belittle fathers: We must lament that there are fathers who are indeed not involved, have little care for their children, or worse are a danger to them (and the mothers). In this case, I understand the protective factors that need to be in place, but these aren’t the normal situations of which I speak here. Instead we are suppressing the roles of fathers, and in doing so society is belittling the fathers who do take active roles. The hurt that comes with being undervalued in this circumstance is difficult to convey, but there is no denying its existence.
  3. They defy biblical mandates: Finally, at the most extreme level, the rules and regulations seek to redefine biblical definitions and mandates, thus causing disobedience to God’s Word.
Lost on most people is how their measures are actually counter to the goals that are supposedly desired.
There should be no surprise that more fathers are not involved when the whole processes we put into place actually discourage, not encourage, their involvement. The picture is one I took at the hospital while I waited for my wife at one point. These are the doors that blocked my access to my daughter. What is supposedly meant to be a secured barrier for her protection is actually the most insecure barrier of all because they cut off a child’s relationship with her parents (or one of the parents at least; I could not imagine if she had to be in there for several weeks or months). However, these are the very barriers that our society is putting up between parents and children all over. You’re not protecting the children, you’re damaging them.