You may wonder why I am so committed to encouraging you to be the best father you can be for your children. I could say that it’s the mountains of sociological studies that show a direct link between fatherlessness and dozens of social problems. Sociologists from all over the globe, through empirical studies, link increased rates of crime, health problems, suicide, child abuse, sexual violence, drug abuse, mental health and lower educational results, with the epidemic of fatherlessness in the western world.
But the truth of the matter is, what compels me to encourage you to be the best father you can possibly be, is the pain of being robbed of my father at a very young age. It’s also the inspiration and the joy of having a great relationship with my dad in later years when I was older.
My mum and dad married quite late. Mum was 32 and Dad was 42. Both were strong-willed people and used to doing things their own way. Let’s be honest: the older we get the more inflexible we become. Often people who marry young just seem to grow up together and develop a strong sense of unity and togetherness. This was certainly not the case with my parents. I spent a total of four years living in Edinburgh, Scotland with my grandmother while mum worked in various jobs. I thought everyone lived with their grandmother. Maybe they do today with the current crisis in fatherlessness, but certainly not in the 60s.
I was born in Sydney, Australia, but my home life was so volatile that I had been to 13 different schools by the time I reached high school. The police used to come to our house to adjudicate the fights. I never saw dad hit mum, but I saw plenty of the reverse. That’s probably why I have no trouble believing that many men suffer physical abuse from their wives, because I have seen it with my own eyes. Many statistics are cooked to perpetuate the myth that most men are wife-beaters, when in actual fact it’s much closer to 50 / 50 in the despicable stakes of family violence.
One day when I was ten years old, I was called to the principal’s office at our Kirribilli school. My mother and a ‘child guidance officer’ were also present. I was told that my eight-year-old brother and I were going to be sent to a boys’ home in Moss Vale. My brother and I began to cry and begged them not to take us away from our dad. We cried for well over an hour and raised such a fuss that they relented from carrying out their plan.
My mother and father were never divorced and I believe that is to their credit, but it sure was a bumpy ride for us kids. Today we would have been separated from dad and, likely as not with our current court system, have never seen him again. That’s why I am so passionate for reform for our unjust family law system, not because I am a father that has been through divorce, but I was a child that knew the pain of a broken home first hand. I know what it’s like to be whisked away from my father without warning. In the first 12 years of my childhood, I spent half my time away from my father simply because mum and dad couldn’t get on.
It was many years later, as a man of 35, happily married with four young sons of my own, that I had a dream. In that dream I saw a picture of a man and woman walking down the road. One of them had a boy about 3 years of age in their arms. I could see these people in silhouette, but I couldn’t see who they were. As this couple walked down the road they got further and further apart. The young child reached out for the other parent, but they still got further apart. It made me cry and cry. I woke up and my pillow was wet. I felt I was going mad. Grown men don’t cry, do they? As I pondered the picture I had seen, I wondered who the little boy was. A voice seemed to say to me, “You are the little boy,” and I burst into tears again and kept crying until my pillow was soaked. I thought I was over my troubled childhood, but 35 years later God was still healing my heart. Every tear was a tear of pain, but also a tear of healing.
That is why I am committed to my wife and family. My wife complains that I’m no good for a fight. I am really glad about this criticism. I don’t want my children to suffer that heartbreak, nor should yours.
Have you heard of drug-proofing your kids?
My challenge is: let’s try to divorce-proof our marriages.
How do you do that?
First: come under the authority of the one who made you.
Second: become the source of love in your home for your wife and children.
Your love is always more important than money. Money can’t buy love or happiness.
You as the father must become the love leader in the home.
Women often spell love: L-I-S-T-E-N.
Children often spell love T-I-M-E.
Now is the time to get the family spelling book out and check that you have the right spelling for the most important word of all: L-O-V-E.
Yours for more love leading,