do dads really matter?

Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone or something.

Who is the most influential person in your child’s life? A friend? A teacher, youth leader or coach? A relative? What about a favorite actor or rap artist?

Any of these people can have a powerful effect. But ultimately, parents have the greatest influence on their children’s lives. And as research shows, dads have a huge impact on their children’s sense of value, purpose, life direction and a desire for adventure.

Are You a Parent or a Dad?

There are some who think that all children need are “good parents” without making a distinction between a mom and a dad. Dr. David Popenoe, professor of sociology at Rutgers University and co-director of the National Marriage Project, begs to differ with this view:

Fathers are far more than just “second adults” in the home. Involved fathers – especially biological fathers – bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring. They provide protection, economic support and male role models. They have a parenting style that is significantly different from that of a mother and that difference is important in healthy child development…Dads, love their children “more dangerously.” That’s because they play “rougher” and are more likely to encourage risk-taking…Fathers encourage competition, engendering independence…Dads emphasize conceptual communication, which helps kids expand their vocabulary and intellectual capacities.

Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., builds on the critical role of fathers in her blog, The Important Role of Dad:

Fathers are central to the emotional well-being of their children; they are capable caretakers and disciplinarians…Studies show that if your child’s father is affectionate, supportive and involved, he can contribute greatly to your child’s cognitive, language and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem and authenticity.

The Adventure Begins

For Jesus, he made it clear that the key influence in his life was his father.

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. John 5:19-20 (NIV)

As a dad, I find all these statements both sobering and motivating. It makes me want to be a better dad and to get on board with leading my family. It’s what I was made to do! It’s what you were made to do!

But where do you begin?

When my wife, Kristin, was in college, she faced a tough decision about wanting to join a sorority and balancing that decision with her studies and her job as a resident assistant. Throughout this process of making her decision, she turned to her dad, Bob Lundberg, for guidance. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, it made a difference. To help my wife work through this decision, he got out a piece of paper, drew two columns marking one “Pros” and the other “Cons.” Then he wrote at the top of the page, “God.” For Bob, God was the number-one priority in his life, and he wanted his children to see every decision through that lens.

Dads, we know we have great influence over how our children will live out their life of faith. So in this very moment, take a few minutes and ask your Heavenly Father how to make faith more alive for you and your family. Then, step into your child’s life — and together, enjoy the adventure!

Dan Dolsen is the founder and director of The Fatherhood Project-Building Great Dads. The Fatherhood Project’s mission is to build great dads by equipping them with the tools to lead their families in the roles of provider, protector, partner and preparer. The Fatherhood Project is a Christian ministry and a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. The Fatherhood Project may be found at www.buildinggreatdads.org .

© 2018 The Fatherhood Project-Building Great Dads. Not to be reproduced or copied without permission of Dan Dolsen. PLEASE SHARE THIS MESSAGE WITH OTHERS! All Bible quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.