What is important for children to learn is the essence of manhood and womanhood (femininity, not feminism); men are innately the protectors and providers; women are innately the nurturers and guardians. One is not subservient to the other but complements the other. How does a boy learn to treat women if he never witnesses how it is done? How does a girl learn how to be treated if she never sees her mother treated with respect?
My own father, the youngest son of European and Middle-Eastern parents, adored my Irish mother and would do anything for her. Over a 20 year span they had seven children and he loved us all unconditionally. He died suddenly of a massive heart attack when he was only 51, leaving my mother to cope alone with 5 children under 17. By then I was married with three children, and it wasn’t until he was gone that I became aware of how he had influenced my life.
Being the oldest, and the only girl for 15 years, we were very close. Daddy was my cheerleader, my compass, my rock and he disapproved of nearly every boyfriend I ever had. Fathers are the standards, whether positive or negative, by which girls measure other men. They set the bar, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, he was very influential in my choices. He knew, even before I knew it myself, that Marc was the right one for me.
Marc, my husband, and I had 6 children in 10 years, 5 boys and one girl. He worked hard, sometimes at two jobs, but he never complained. He did what had to be done. When the children were small I often felt overwhelmed, wondering why God had given me children to raise, because I was sure I wasn’t doing a very good job. When Marc came home they rushed to meet him. “Daddy’s home!” He rarely raised his voice in anger and the worst punishment our children could receive was the knowledge they had disappointed him. He also stepped into the father role for my younger siblings, whose ages began at only 2 years older than our oldest child.
Five of our children are married, four have children. Our sons followed their father’s example. They treat their wives and daughters with respect and as a result, their daughters have self-respect and their sons cherish the women in their lives. Our daughter chose a man whose personality is very different from Marc, but who shows the same core goodness and respect for her and their daughter, which she learned to expect.
In January another generation will begin with the birth of our first great-grandchild whose father, our oldest grandson, will no doubt continue what began over a century ago.
Please pray for fathers and sons everywhere. Pray that we can resurrect those high standards so that many more young men will know the loving influence of a strong father to guide, to teach, to set the example of true manhood in their lives.
Annette Nellums has been a volunteer at Pregnancy Aid Clinic since 2015. She and husband Marc have been married for 58 years, have 6 children, umpteen grandchildren and a great-grandbaby on the way. God Bless!