In addressing the question of fathering, a major factor has been considered for developing fathers in the area of parenting. The major factor is “the nurturant father.”

There are a few reasons for the introduction of this concept in the debate about fathers. First, fathers often see themselves as providers and protectors. In other words men would work outside the home and gain money and develop a career that provides physical and financial resources for the well-being of the family.

Second, the society perpetuates the view that mothering means nurturing, while fathering is simply impregnating a child’s mother. As such, the view seems to be that fathers are unclear and incompetent in matters of child-tending behaviors, while mothers seem to be naturally equipped for the nurturing role. Hence, fathers are given a pass to be busy with instrumental tasks of providing and protecting, as mothers engage in caring, loving, and comforting children.

Third, the rise of economic austerities has caused an escalation of dual earning households. This reality limits the engagement of many mothers in the nurturing process as they become gainfully employed outside the home. This reality only accentuates the desire for the participation of fathers in the lives of children.

Although some might read the above reasons and conclude that maybe it’s best for fathers simply to be providers and protectors, while mothers continue the range of child tending behaviors; I think fathers are equally responsible for nurturing children. The benefits of the father’s presence and involvement are huge.

“Closeness of children to fathers has been found to make a significant contribution to offspring happiness, life satisfaction, psychological well-being, intellectual development, and educational and occupational mobility.” (J. Ross Eshleman, 2000). Look at what happens when fathers are absent. “Father absent” has been a significant factor in low academic achievement, rise of delinquency and deviant behavior, and truancy.

Arguably, Fathers are needed for more than just physical and economic needs, but also teaching, caregiving, sharing affection, self-control, diapering and cooking. How do we begin to restore the biblical value of fathers?

1. Fathers should carry out the responsibilities associated with fatherhood to inspire trust and security in the family (Job 29:12-17; Psalm 68:5-6).

2. Fathers should model love for God—the Heavenly Father—with their whole being and display unquestionable faith in God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Job 1:2-5).

3. Fathers should lead their families to church worship services (Hebrews 10:25).

4. Fathers should nurture the memory of God’s redemptive acts in the Scripture. For example, the Exodus event and the Crucifixion of Christ event. Tell the story of redemption over and over again to children (Deuteronomy 6:4-8).

5. Fathers should provide and protect the family. Provide food, clothing, shelter, etc. Protect from societal threats (Judges 18:21-25).

6. Fathers should represent the family well in the public sphere (Ruth 4:1-11).

7. Fathers should see to the harmonious operation of the family.

8. Fathers should engender an environment for harmonious decision making and disciple-making, and the subsequent carrying out of the decision, and formation of children. (Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:21).

9. Fathers should be loving husbands who are committed to the building of parental alliance (Ephesians 5: 25).

Many fathers may not have had any model to follow, but while not perfect their presence as provider, protector and nurturer forges a formidable team with mothers that create a trusting and secure community. With God all things are possible. Fathers are needed more than ever before!

--This article was written by Dr. Peter Joseph, Pastor of the of Philadelphia & Redemption Seventh-day Adventist churches.