How Important Is a Father’s Role in a Child’s Life?

I stepped into my favorite coffee shop for my morning cup of java. Behind me a man carried a toddler on his shoulders, bundled to brave the chilly Colorado morning.

smiling man holding baby in his arms

“There’s chocolate, powdered sugar, and even sprinkled! You can chose whichever you’d like, buddy.”

The father gave his young son a donut education as they waited in line. He spoke to his son with such adoration!

With so many absent fathers in the world, it’s encouraging to see dads invest in their children. As I watched this dad and his son enjoying their morning outing, I couldn’t help but say,

“You’ve got yourself a real cute son there!”

With a huge smile and welling pride, he responded,

“Thanks! He’s also my best friend.”

What a pleasure for the young boy! What love he will have! Imagine the difference this dad will make, even going as far as to say his little toddler was his best friend. This child will grow up cherished.

On the other side of the world, in many East African cultures, men are responsible for providing for the family and women are responsible for domestic work within the home and, in particular, looking after children. But our staff knows the role of the father in a child’s life is indispensable.

As a result, Child Survival Program (CSP) fathers in Ethiopia are more involved in caregiving and emotional support. Fathers are beginning to help wash their babies, take them to activities at the church, and participate in program activities.

They contribute to their children’s well-being through their own loving presence. They maintain a healthy relationship with the child, providing emotional and financial support.

large gathering of men holding babies and small children

Whether walking into a coffee shop or walking down a dirt road to a child development center, fathers can use their powerful influence to change the life of a child. These men and babies will change the face of their country.

I left the shop that morning with more than a great cup of coffee. I left with a reminder to pray for fathers and their crucial role in the lives of their children. The next time you grab a powdered-sugar donut, say a prayer for fathers and their continued presence in our African CSP programs.

12 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Sean M Kelly March 18, 2011

    Hi Katy

    As a Father of four children (ages 9 to 14, two boys and two girls) I really resonate with what you say in this article. We get a short time to be with our children while they are growing up but it is a vital time to be with them. When we spend time with our children, and time is a resource none of us will get back, we implicitly and explicitly demonstrate to them how important they are to us.

    Physical gifts are good but sharing our lives with them is so so much more important.

    Just this morning I heard a tragic story which happened to one of my brother in laws friends yesterday. He was cutting down a tree with his 7 year old son. A part of the tree fell on the Father and he was killed. The little boy ran out onto the street crying “Help, help I think my Daddy’s dead”. Our prayers would be very much needed there so please send some.

    And it also reminds us that none of us know how long we have so let’s relish the time we have with one of the greatest blessings of all we’ve been given – our Children!

    Thanks for your article, very well written too.
    The Irish Inspirational Blogger

  2. Shawn March 17, 2011

    Katy, amazing mission! Just this past weekend I watched as a dad of a young girl brushed and braided her hair to get her ready for a gymnastics meet. It’s so great to see fathers worldwide engaged in the lives of their children. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  3. Florence March 17, 2011

    Katy, this was a great article! Enjoyed reading it and agree with you and the other commentators of the importance of fathers in their children’s lives. Hope you’re having a good day! Did Brandy tell you I said “Hi” on Monday?

  4. David Meekins March 16, 2011

    As an dad active in my girls lives, I am so proud of them as they are now adults, walking with God and faithfully serving Him. My odlest and I are going to Tanzania this summer to see the children we support. My daughter wanted this for her ?? th birthday. It is a surprize for our kids, but a huge memory making time for this proud dad and his daughter.

    1. Katy March 17, 2011

      Hi David,

      Your family sounds incredible! I’m sure the summer trip to Tanzania will be life changing for your daughter and the sponsored children you support.

      You’re an inspiration!

  5. Ken M. March 16, 2011

    Children do need a father in their lives. I missed having a responsible father in my life and I have seen many others grow up without a father. Sometimes fatherless boys continue the cycle. They will have children and think they are a man because they had a child. The sad thing is they don’t provide emotional and financial support. What is even sadder is that sometimes they don’t know how to because a father never taught them.
    At times when I see a father interacting with his son I have to stop and watch. When I see a boy of any age go to his father and call him dad it seems so special to me. Even though I’m an adult sometimes I wish I had experienced a good relationship with my father.
    This is for the male sponsors. Even though you aren’t your sponsored child’s natural father, you still have an important role in your sponsored child’s life. Always lift your sponsored child up to God in prayer and please write words of encouragement.

    1. Katy March 17, 2011

      Thanks for your insightful words, Ken.

  6. Molly March 16, 2011

    LOVE this! Having worked with teen-aged mothers for many years, I have seen the generational damage that is done by absent or abusive fathers. What a blessing to know that Compassion is helping Father’s to show their children God’s heart toward them. There is no more effective way to share the gospel with a child, than a loving father!

    1. Katy March 17, 2011

      Hi Molly,

      Thanks for your words and your work with teen mothers. What an important job and what an important reminder to us… Father’s effectively bring the Gospel!

  7. Teresa March 16, 2011

    Even as an adult, I cherish the relationship I have with my father and the comfort I find in knowing he is there for me, as a confidant and friend. I will always be a “daddy’s girl”. Fathers are crucial, no matter what culture or country you reside in.

  8. Doug March 16, 2011

    Great post and great words of wisdom for us fathers. The words spoken and words not spoken are so important. We need to love our children as God loves us!

  9. Paula March 16, 2011

    Yes, children need a mother and a father no matter what popular culture says. Great post. I love the picture with the dads holding their babies!

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