I know we are called Mama Bear Apologetics, but we’re about encouraging and equipping all adults who pour into the young people in their lives; that includes all our Papa Bears! Mother’s Day is all about celebrating every mother. If you’re a mom, you’re awesome because motherhood is hard. While that is really true, when Father’s Day rolls around, we don’t often hear the same type of encouragement for men. So allow us to brag on y’all for a bit!

Fatherhood is a sacrificial calling

Dads often work away from home, meaning they don’t get to spend as much time with their kids as they would like. They come home mentally and physically exhausted but swoop in with dinner and/or bath time. They do after-dinner devotions or bedtime stories while trying to find the energy to make it to bed before doing it all over again the next day. And we see you, dads! We see you baiting the kids’ hooks on fishing trips, spending more of your fishing trip disentangling lines than fishing. We see you taking twice as long on a project so Tommy can “help.” We see you using your days off doing yardwork that no one seems to notice unless it’s not done.  

And Papa Bears, we want to encourage you in the unique and irreplaceable role that God has given you in the lives of your children. While modern sitcoms seem to make you the butt of every joke, we know that God’s perfect design began with fathers and mothers leading their children to grow in the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord.  

Why are fathers so important?

God’s design for the family was not an accident. From the very beginning, one man was to leave his family of origin and cleave to one woman to create a new family (Matthew 19:5-6). While families can be biological, adoptive, foster, or even spiritual, raising children was always meant to be a team effort between a father and mother (at the very least).  

Men are not women. And that’s the beauty of it. I know this is highly controversial these days, but hear me out. Masculinity brings different gifts to the table than femininity does. Dads set boundaries and expectations. They provide a sense of security. They are role models, drill sergeants, and confidantes.  

We’ve all seen that meme of the dad tossing the baby in the air, contrasting how it looks to dad versus the terrifying horror mom sees, but that is part of what dads bring to the table. Rough and tumble play helps children learn boundaries and how to take appropriate risks. As a little girl, wrestling with my own father made me feel intensely loved and helped me learn I didn’t stand a chance of becoming the lead of my own superhero story. 

My daughter got the benefit of having two very different parents. I’m a read-and-think-deep-thoughts-all-day kind of person. My husband was a be outside-all-the-time kind of person. He knew every bird, plant, bug, and critter. And my daughter thrived on learning from us both. She loves books and art and learning about birds and animals and climbing through the woods with friends and making Dad’s famous French toast. Her dad opened the world to her in a way I never would have. And we cherish the ways his dadness shaped her personality.  

Kids with involved dads experience multiple benefits

Research on the importance of fathers from Montana State University suggests, “Children of highly involved fathers show increased cognitive competence, increased empathy, enhanced school performance, greater motivation to succeed, enhanced social development and self-esteem, less sex-stereotyped beliefs, stronger sexual identity and character, and more intrinsic motivation.” 

Children with present fathers also tend to do better in school, are less likely to struggle with drugs or mental illness, and are more likely to have healthy adult relationships.  

Being an involved and affectionate father is more important than your parenting style or personality. Being mentally and physically present when you’re with your children is the secret sauce. Not every dad gets to be with his kids every day for a variety of reasons, but make the most of whatever time you have. Find creative ways to show up when you can’t be physically present.  

Involved dads pass down their faith

Another study by Vern Bengtson suggests that fathers who have close, warm relationships with their children are more likely to pass down their faith to their children. “Rather than single-mindedly steering a child toward their faith, dads can embrace everyday opportunities to strengthen their connection with their kids and talk about deep questions. They can make themselves available and be willing to be vulnerable.” 

Living out your beliefs in every aspect of daily life is what George Barna defines as being an integrated disciple. He recently released a study about America’s decline in biblical morality, but the one group that showed promise were the integrated disciples. “Their attitudes, values, lifestyles, and level of hope is unlike anything else I see on the national landscape. We learn best by modeling ourselves after those who have figured out what we are questioning. Integrated disciples appear to be viable role models for the life that millions of Americans have found elusive.” 

So be whatever kind of man you are, but be a role model that points your kids to Jesus. Everything else is really just gravy. #FathersDay #papabear #fatherhood Click To Tweet

Excellent dads 1) Look like Jesus, and 2) Show up. If you’re doing your best to do those two things every single opportunity you have, then you’re exactly the dad you need to be. And chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re already doing both those things to the best of your ability. 

You don’t need to be a hot-rod-car-guy showing your kids how to rebuild an engine or Bear Grylls demonstrating how to live off the land using only some twine and a hatchet. Really! You can be those things, but you don’t have to be. It’s enough to Just be present in your kids’ lives, walking with them through every day battles, and doing your best to reflect Christ.  

A dad who reads poetry and loves musicals is a great dad. A dad who loves math is a great dad. A dad who loves the outdoors is a great dad. While not every dad fits into the same molds of masculinity, every version of healthy masculinity is part of God’s plan. #fathersday #masculinity #fatherhood Click To Tweet

The thing is, God picked you–the whole package–to be father to your children (whether they be biological, adoptive, spiritual, etc.). He knew exactly what your kids would need in a father and chose you! (He also knows where you need refining and probably gave you the right kids for that job as well, ammirightt? ) 

What are some ways you can look like Jesus?

1. Being intentional about daily Bible reading (the whole Bible, regularly), on your own and leading your family. It doesn’t have to look any certain way. Just be consistent.

2. Growing as an integrated disciple, where your beliefs, thoughts, and actions are internally consistent and your life increasingly reflects the fruit of the Spirit.

3. Sharing your discipleship walk with your children in day-to-day life.  

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 summarizes this concept well. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” 

And Mama Bears who’ve read this far, we hope we’ve given you reasons to praise the dad your kids have and to let him be their dad. We can find it really hard sometimes to let dads do their thing – be rough and tumble, take the riskier paths – but kids need that in their lives, too. Look for ways to encourage the kind of dad that your husband is. Ask him how you could better support him as a dad.  

Fathers are the foundation of the family, and the family is the foundation of our culture. Having loving, involved fathers will make a crucial difference in the future of not only your children but the world. Click To Tweet

Looking for ways to encourage the papa bears in your life? Check out this blog by Hillary’s husband, John!

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