I recently read an article printed in the Wall Street Journal written by Gerard Baker entitled “A Man for All Seasons at 100” about his father who celebrated his 100th birthday. I was impressed with the example his father was to his son and will quote a few comments. He had “a temperament characterized by almost eerie self-control. I truly can’t remember my father ever raising his voice or losing his patience, still less uttering an expletive.” “He is from an era when life was defined primarily by duty, not entitlement, by social responsibility, not personal privileges. The primary animating principle throughout his century has been a sense of obligation—to family, God, Country. And in an era when religion is increasing as a curiosity, my father has lived as a true faithful Catholic, with the unshakable belief in the promises of Christ. Indeed, I sometimes think he has lived so long because he is better prepared than anyone I have ever met to die”. (Quotes from Article by Gerard Baker printed in the Wall Street Journal February 21, 2020)
Social Studies on the Importance of Fathers in the Family
David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed:
“Some see the good of fatherhood in social terms, as something that obligates men to their offspring, impelling them to be good citizens and to think about the needs of others, supplementing ‘maternal investment in children with paternal investment in children’… In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers.
We believe in fathers. We believe in the ideal of the man who puts his family first.” (Blankenhorn, Fatherless America, 5.)
We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” 129).
Our Heavenly Father is Our Perfect Example
While these considerations are certainly true and important, we know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.
The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children. “For behold this is my work and glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of Man” (Moses 1: 39 p.4 in the Pearl of Great Price)
Fatherhood requires sacrifice, but it is a source of incomparable satisfaction, even joy. Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13 in the Bible). Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families.
Teach Our Children About God and His Commandments
“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. …And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” (Doctrine and Covenants 68: 25, 28 p. 127) “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: … That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (Psalm 78: 5-7 in Bible)
My Experience as a Father
My wife and I have 7 children and many grandchildren. In raising our family we have had many challenges and had to overcome selfishness and learn to sacrifice by putting our family first. The joy and satisfaction we now experience far exceeds the personal sacrifice and service we gave in having and raising our family.
Some of the article was taken from remarks by D. Todd Christofferson, Liahona, May 2016