Making Room for Daddy

Why little boys need their dads.

Q: Ever since my son was a preschooler, my husband has labeled him a sissy because my son likes drama and art and computers, not sports and hunting. The two of them have no real relationship. How can I make up for my husband's neglect and disappointment?

A: To be honest, you can't, at least not in any meaningful way. That's up to your husband.

The concept of "father" is not superfluous in God's scheme of things. Let's back up and look at your son's development. Built into God's plan for his growth when he was a preschooler was his new understanding that even if he put on Mommy's make-up, he was still a boy. He was learning to stop identifying with you, the most important person in his life up until then, and identify with the maleness of his father.

In elementary school, when a father shows love, encouragement, and excitement over his son's achievements, even if they are not the achievements the father originally hoped for, a boy blossoms. He learns that this guy stuff is pretty cool. Conversely, if the father rejects the ways his son lives out his maleness, his son's pride in his gender shrivels. God's plan for him may never be realized. As the boy gets older and more in touch with his sexuality, he may feel like he isn't much of a "man" at all. When that happens, the spiritual and emotional consequences can be devastating.

My friend Duane was one such child. "I was winning art contests at my school," he said, "but my father could never find time to come to an art show. But he did find time to pay a neighbor boy to teach me to throw a ball like a man. I spent years of my life away from my heavenly Father because I associated him with my earthly father who kept trying to fix me into his definition of a man."

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May 25

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