The Pendulum Swings: Deadbeat Dads vs. Duty-Bound Dads

In the past, I have done a few of the “pendulum swings” articles where I considered and contrasted two almost polar opposite issues or individuals.
With Father’s Day being just three days away, I will use the same format to consider and briefly comment on the two most common types of fathers that we have in our culture.
My aim is not to criticize or incriminate anyone, but to illustrate the two caliber of men who occupy the awesome position and responsibility of being fathers.
Though by the mere definition or title of each category, some may perhaps surmise that one category will highlight the good and faithful fathers while the other will highlight the bad and failing ones who are guilty of dereliction of duty.

Deadbeat Dads
I wrestled with whether to use the term dysfunctional dads or deadbeat dads as the heading of this section. Obviously, deadbeat dads won out due to the fact that it seems to capture and convey the point I am attempting to drive home.
Furthermore, more of my readers will be able to quickly and clearly understand the meaning of a deadbeat dad over the other.
Simply stated, a deadbeat dad is a man who shuns the responsibility of being a father though he has biologically fathered a child. He is the kind who will often boast about helping to bring a child into the world through the pleasure of intercourse, but will run and attempt to hide from the high cost of responsibility and providing for their needs once they are born. He is the kind who must be taken to court and have warrants issued in order to force him to financially support his own children.
I recently counseled and encouraged a mother who was having a very difficult time with her nineteen-year-old son who was angry, rebellious, and disrespectful to her.
After just a few minutes into our session, I discovered where the root of his problem was stemming from. He was very angry because his father did not want to have anything to do with him. It was suppressed anger that was beginning to erupt and spill over into rebellion and disrespect for his mother and other authority figures.
Hopefully and prayerfully, we will be able to help him along with professional counseling and a whole lot of prayer, patience, and love.
After many years of observing and studying the problem that we are beset by with our young people, especially males in the African American community and culture, I am fully convinced that much, if not most, of it is a derivative of deadbeat dads. The violence, crime, and killings that are occurring at pandemic levels in our neighborhoods can be greatly attributed to men, deadbeat dads, who have failed their children miserably. I will conclude this section with a saying from the great Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who once spoke to his son (who was a great failure by the Roman standards of that time), “Son, my failing as a father is your failing as a son.”

Duty-Bound Fathers
I have deliberately saved the best for last in hopes that it will help some struggling father who is trying to measure up to the mark of being a good father to improve his performance.
Admittedly, there are no perfect dads and the best ones will admit that there is much room for improvement in their role as a father. I am certainly in that group as a father of two adult children.
I am going to give you the characteristics of a duty-bound father by using some points from a lesson I taught once that I hope will illustrate what it means to be a good father.
First, a duty-bound father is a good provider to his child or children to the best of his ability. He will not only provide for their financial or natural needs, but he will also provide for their emotional and spiritual needs as well.
A duty-bound father knows that his child or children need both his presents (gifts) as well as his presence (time and attention).
Secondly, a duty-bound father serves as one of the primary teachers (along with the mother) as an instructor of the basic things of life.
He does not shun or neglect his fatherly responsibility of instilling in his children respect for their mother, himself, and others who are adults and have oversight over them (whether at school, church, or anywhere). He establishes and sets the rules that are to be heeded by his children when they are at home and away from home. He serves in the capacity of the enforcer and policeman when they are growing up and break the rules. He is not afraid to correct them when they are toddlers and he dares to discipline.
As they age, he serves as a coach to train and prepare them to compete effectively in the game of life about things like the work ethic, budgeting, and being conservative and frugal. Once they are grown and out on their own, whether married or single, his responsibility shifts to being a counselor who now realizes and respects their adulthood and right to make their own choices. Though they are no longer living under his roof, as a duty-bound father, he still takes his responsibility to pray for and counsel them very seriously.
The things I have set forth that pertain to a duty-bound father will work to a great degree even if the father does not live in the same house or the same city as his child or children.
With the advent of social media, iPhones, and other technological advances, a good father does not have to live in the same house, town, or state with his child or children to be effective as an empathetic and loving father.
All that is required is love, effort, and consistency. Don’t let distance and the fact that you do not live in the same house or town as your child or children stop you.
Where there is a will, there is a way.

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