Help for fathers today

Each photograph shows a father with his children or grandchildren. The photos have titles—"Playing Chase," "Roller Dad," "Like Father, Like Daughter," "Backyard Little Leaguers," "Barbershop," "Story Time," "A Father Leaves for War." Together, the effect is funny, encouraging, warm, touching, and instructive. One gets a sense of how vital the role of "dads" actually is, and how important it is for every father to realize that fact and take seriously his own responsibility.

The collection of photographs is from Life with Father, a book published earlier this year, compiled by the editors of Life magazine. In the introduction, veteran father and newsman Tom Brokaw reminds us that fatherhood carries with it both large "expectations" and "an enormously complex collective 'image.'" He draws this contrast: "In Ecclesiasticus it is written, 'Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.' Today a poster in a New York City school warns, 'Don't make a baby if you can't be a father.'"

The demand on men to share the responsibility for raising, nurturing, teaching, disciplining, sheltering, and providing for their children isn't new of course. But it is perhaps more urgent today, considering the number of single-parent homes (largely maintained by mothers), the many men who have simply fathered a child and then vanished, and the many complicated social and moral issues children are facing. There's so much benefit that can come to children from the steady guidance and presence of a father who cares, loves, understands. There's even greater benefit when a father knows his own relationship to God and brings to the work and joys and sometimes struggles of fatherhood a prayer-directed basis for all that he imparts to his children.

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The truth about pain
October 30, 1995

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