Recently my eight year old son asked me, “Daddy, how much money will you spend for me on my birthday?” It was an innocent question—fueled by his desire to buy and collect more basketball cards. More money equals more cards. His hope is to receive cash only for his November birthday and then go directly to the trading cards store and buy some cards. (Donations are being accepted towards this cause.)
All jokes aside, many of us men grew up with no expectation to receive big or even small amounts of money as gifts from our parents. I personally grew up in a blue collar home in a very small town in Ohio, USA with a mother and father who owned a power equipment sales and service center.
Dad worked 70+ hours a week and parented eight kids alongside my mother. As you can imagine, getting alone time with Dad was a rare thing. However, on my birthdays, I received the gift of time with my dad. He would take me to the local diner of my choice for a man-to-man birthday lunch.
...getting alone time with Dad was a rare thing. However, on my birthdays, I received the gift of time with my dad.
I don’t recall every detail of the deliciously greasy burgers and fries, but I do remember always having discussions about God, His Word, and His plan for my life. Whether it was by Dad’s side watching him fix a chainsaw or just sitting in the passenger seat while picking up a tractor for repair, that time with Dad really mattered and made a great impact on my life.
No matter the culture, there is one global truth we can easily identify everywhere: good fathers are hard to find. Fathers have been known to be absent at home, at church, and all over society. Sadly, through movies and television, men and fathers have increasingly been belittled and demoralized.
Now, thanks to social media, many toxic men are reacting by boasting of their greatness and are in turn being rightfully demonized by society. Both extremes are very wrong, and both outcomes are very unfortunate. As men and fathers, we were made for more than this.
Fatherhood in the Philippines
Many young men here in the Philippines grow up “fatherless” even while having a present, biological father. Their fathers adapt to the cultural norm of letting the mother do most of the child rearing while they simply take on financial responsibility.
Many fathers in Filipino society spend more time with their barkada and playing basketball than they do with their wife and children. Meanwhile, along the streets and in many child care centers, many other children actually do grow up fatherless, never knowing the presence of a real father or mother.
Many fathers spend more time with their friends than they do their wife and children Meanwhile, children on the streets and in child care centers actually don't have fathers.
Statistics are overwhelmingly negative about the effects of fatherlessness on children, whether through physical abandonment or the absence of that presence in the home. Life Factors Fatherless Ministries USA states the following regarding this plight:
“Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality." Life Factors Fatherless Ministries USA
What a heartbreaking trend.
Bringing Fathers Back Into the Picture
This is why a movement like Generations—Home seeks to assist in foster care and adoption in the Philippines and advocate for the fatherless worldwide. Recently, we had our first Dad’s Gathering on Zoom, 25 men from around the Philippines gathering to share stories about their adoptive parent journeys. We heard testimonies from men just starting out on that journey and from others that were much farther down the road as adoptive fathers.
Generations—Home seeks to assist in foster care and adoption in the Philippines and advocate for the fatherless worldwide.
I left the meeting so encouraged and inspired by the stories as my wife and I prepare to adopt for the second time. However, I also couldn’t help but be very challenged and personally convicted by the conversations. Why? Because I personally believe that before we can truly learn to be better adoptive dads, I need to go to the very definition and essence of fatherhood. I want to get back to what it means to be a biblical kind of father.
I believe that we will not become better fathers by comparing ourselves to our friends, our fathers, or just trying to improve on society's norms. The only way forward is to model ourselves after the example the Greatest Father has set for us. While the culture is calling us to conform to this world, God is calling us to be transformed by His Word.
The only way forward is to model ourselves after the example the Greatest Father has set for us.
This will inspire us to offer a selfless love to our families just as God has done so sacrificially for all of us. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
This will require us to spend our valuable time daily for our families just as Jesus does for his spiritual sons and daughters. “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
This will no doubt lead us to change our attitude towards fatherhood to being filled with “grace and truth” as Jesus treated others. (John 1:14)
This will motivate us to teach God's Word to our children so that they develop a knowledge of God and His truth. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
Becoming a biblical father will not just change us presently to be more like our Heavenly Father, but it will also change the future for our children and our children’s children. Our generations will be blessed by having a home where not only was a father present, but a biblical father was present.
Becoming a biblical father will not just change us presently to be more like our Heavenly Father, but it will also change the future for our children and our children’s children.
Calvin Houser is an adoptive father, Pastor at the City Baptist Church of Lagro, and co-founder of the children's Bahay Sibol.
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UPCOMING Article by Jon Henson: A Fatherhood Crisis is Fueling the Orphan Crisis