Two Kinds Of Fathers

Stephen Arterburn

Experience has shown us that the men who are happiest and most content in their masculine role today are those whose fathers invested time and energy in their lives. These dads may have worked outside the home, as the vast majority of fathers in our society today do. But their priorities were in the right place. They were committed in principle, and found concrete ways to maintain a positive, nurturing relationship with their sons. These fathers helped their sons discern and nurture their individual talents, and supported them in their chosen careers. They identified their sons’ strengths and weaknesses and addressed them accordingly. They attempted to understand their sons’ unique ambitions, and appreciated their achievements. In short, these fathers helped their sons become men. And as a result of their investments, their sons are among the most well-adjusted and peaceful husbands and fathers in our society.

However, men with these kinds of dads are in the minority today. Most men are struggling to recover from relationships with fathers who failed to nurture, affirm, and validate them at the most fundamental level. Their fathers have left these men a legacy of pain, confusion, frustration, anxiety, bitterness, fear, and anger. These adult sons are often the angry men of our society.

Friend, which description best fits your situation? Are you reaping the benefits of a committed, invested father, or struggling to overcome a sonship that has left you a wounded and angry man? If it’s the latter, won’t you take steps to get some help?

Don’t stay stuck there.

The Perfect-Mate Myth

Stephen Arterburn

Gentlemen, North American culture wields a tremendous influence upon Christians’ values in many areas. One in particular is the area of relationships where many of us have fallen for what I call the ‘Perfect-Mate Myth.’ This myth applies to single and married men, and goes something like this: ‘If I just had the right woman, my life would be all right.’

Let me be blunt: this belief is incredibly ignorant. First, because it assumes that our problems are all external’that our real problem is an imperfect spouse or the lack thereof. Second, because it assumes that there’s such a thing as a ‘perfect’ spouse.

This delusion keeps us from spiritual maturity. It prevents married men from doing the hard work and making the commitment necessary to build and repair their relationship with their wives, and it tempts single men to put their lives on hold until that ‘perfect’ woman appears.

Men, the perfect mate myth is an unhealthy fantasy. Focus your attention on your relationship with God. He wants a married man’s attitude to be, ‘I’m in this for the long haul. I’m going to dedicate myself to and work at making this marriage last.’ This is how an active and true faith comes alive in a marriage.

Similarly, God wants the attitude of every single Christian man to be, ‘God, I’m yours, with or without a spouse, and I will focus my attention on my relationship with you.”

Whatever your situation, God is sufficient to meet your needs.

The Irresponsible Father

Stephen Arterburn

Many men today grew up in homes where the father was completely absent because of divorce. Many of these men judged their roles as husbands and fathers to be expendable in the pursuit of their careers and lifestyles. At some point their sons had to deal with the shocking reality that Daddy didn’t want to live with them anymore.

When fathers abandon their families, they plant seeds of discord in their sons that may unconsciously come to the surface when their sons marry. Boys usually perceive their fathers as the epitome of masculinity’even if the father has little time or concern for his sons. For this reason, sons often grow up to repeat their father’s behavior, thereby perpetuating the current crisis between fathers and sons.

In other families, fathers remained in the home physically but abandoned their sons emotionally. These men worked day and night, and played hard all weekend. Not only was the father-son relationship void of nurture, it left a negative impact on the boy, who was treated as an inconvenience or an interruption in his father’s life. Just at the time the boy needed a man to help him practice being a man, his father was off somewhere struggling with his own manhood.

Yet, God calls all men to be men. If your earthly dad was irresponsible, I encourage you to look to your heavenly Father. Read, pursue counseling, and seek friendships with good, Christian men. Irresponsible dads raise angry sons. Let’s not continue this pattern.