What Kind of Father Are You?

by Morris Chalfant

Some people say any man can be a father; it a job that takes little talent. The rate for failure in fatherhood is actually higher than any other occupation. Fathers have a colossal full-time job that most people underestimate. It's the most important task a man can tackle.

In every field, individuals reap fame, power and money in the same professions in which their fathers toiled. Indeed, many combine talent and drive to surpass their fathers' achievements.

Still, many of those individuals agree that they didn't reach the top by themselves. Vital to their success were the advice, financial sacrifices, and well-timed pats on the back from their biggest fan-Dad.

Possibly the number one problem among fathers today is simply not being there-not spending time with children before they have grown up.

The cases of the executive always off on business, the workaholic who rises early and leaves before the children are up and comes home after they have gone to bed, the man who spends his afternoons and evenings having "a beer with the boys," tell only part of the story.

How many fathers, while not exactly committing the error of not being around, come home after a hard day, invade the refrigerator or liquor cabinet and use the television set as a barrier between themselves and their offspring, all the while telling themselves they are home with the family?

And the weekend? Well, it's for relaxation on the golf course with the boys-adults, that is, not children.

A nationwide survey reported how much time fathers were spending with their children. The results were astounding. Fathers with children between the ages of 2 and 12 were spending twelve minutes a day with their children.

But not all dads are twelve-minute dads.

I watched a busload of dads and sons leave our church parking lot for an overnight camping trip. The dads represented various vocations. But they all had one thing in common: They didn't want to be twelve-minute dads.

Sometimes there are effects of our influence that we may never know. Brook Adams kept a diary from his boyhood. One special day when he was eight-years-old, he wrote in his diary, "Went fishing with my father, the most glorious day of my life." Throughout the next 40 years of his life, he never forgot that day he went fishing with his father; he made repeated references to it in his diary, commenting on the influence of that day on his life.

Brook's father was an important man; he was Charles Francis Adams, the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain under the Lincoln administration. Adams reportedly made a note in his diary about the fishing trip. He wrote simply, "Went fishing with my son, a day wasted."

Of course, the day was not wasted; its value may well have proved to make it one of the most well-spent days in his life. No one can measure the influence of a man on his children and that is all the more reason to take the job and its responsibilities seriously.