I got to give a talk today. And my topic was one of my favorites: The importance of fathers! I have wonderful men in my life! Especially these two!
When I was young, my main ambition was to be a wife and mother. I longed to create, nurture and raise a family. With that in mind, I was looking for a husband who would be dependable, intelligent, ambitious, fun, respectful, committed and devoted. And the desire to be a father was at the top of that list! (I also wanted a husband who was really good-looking….) I hit the jackpot with Scott!
Fathers are amazing! And I have been blessed to be associated with lots of different fathers – Scott and my own dad at the top of the list….
Fathers and especially families are essential in the Lord’s plan for us! Unfortunately, Satan is working overtime to destroy families. One of his plans is to diminish the role of fathers. Increased youth violence, youth crime, greater poverty and economic insecurity offer clear evidence of lack of positive influence of fathers in the homes. A family needs a father to anchor it.
I love how President Ezra Taft Benson explained the importance of fathers: “Yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released… a father’s calling is eternal, and its importance transcends time.”
So what is the role of a father?! Well… The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the roles of fathers and families in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”:
“…By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families…. Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners….”
Sooooooo… Fathers are supposed to provide for the material needs of their families. I love how the Apostle Paul says it so succinctly: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim. 5:8)
My dad was a college professor for 40 years. Not only did he teach full time, but he also held down at least two or three jobs at the same time, including heading up the Colorado Mosquito Control. And in order to live off a teacher salary, he often walked or rode his bike to and from work. I am so grateful for his service so that we could eat and have a home. At the time, I didn’t realize how much my father worked for our family. I appreciate it MUCH more now.
I also love how the Proclamation expects fathers to provide spiritual leadership for their families. In a pamphlet published some years ago by the Council of the Twelve, it says: “Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home.”
How can fathers give spiritual leadership to their families? May I suggest 8 specific ways?
1. Give father’s blessings to your children.
I grew up receiving father’s blessings. I got them at the beginning of every school year. I got them when I was sick. I got them when I needed comfort. It was wonderful to me that my dad was worthy to give me a blessing whenever I asked. One of the most important blessings I received from my father was the day before my wedding. I was a nervous, young bride. I asked my dad for a blessing – and I’ll never forget the feeling of peace I received as he gave me inspiration from my Heavenly Father that my marriage to Scott was right and good and necessary for exaltation.
Not only am I grateful for my father’s blessings, but I’m truly grateful that my own husband has followed suit and provided the same service for our daughters! I truly love the legacy that father’s blessings bring!
2. Direct family prayers, and daily scripture reading.
Scott is wonderful at making sure we say family prayers and read our scriptures daily… or at least as often as we can! Those moments of morning prayers (even though I am often half asleep) have truly blessed my days. And my evening insomnia is better when we’ve prayed as a family! I especially love it when Kiara face-times in for those prayers and Scott calls on her to say the prayers!
3. Hold weekly family home evenings.
Both of my parents are educators. So FHE was a no brainer at our house growing up! I could give a whole talk about the importance of FHE and never run out of material! I remember the time my father told us he had a dream that we had to leave for the wilderness and we packed up – drove to the middle of nowhere – and read about Lehi and his family having to leave. Another memorable FHE was when a pirate gave dad a treasure map on his way home from work – he had hid the treasure in our back yard. We knew it was authentic because it was burned and dirty. And when we dug up the treasure?! We got the Book of Mormon and fudge!
Since my childhood was filled with amazing FHEs I was hoping my future husband would also catch the vision of this wonderful opportunity to teach our children. He did. And our own daughters beg for FHE…. Our favorite activity is the candy bar game. (It’s just an excuse to eat candy bars after the lesson!)
4. Attend Church meetings together.
I love going to church. I especially love going with our family. I love that Scott has always made attending church together an essential part of being a “DeGooyer!”
5. Build traditions with your families, including family vacations and family outings.
Speaking of being a “DeGooyer” one of our favorite family traditions is DeGooyer Day. It has made our family closer and it came about because of Scott! DeGooyer Day is our family’s annual holiday. We wear matching shirts and play ALL day long. No work is allowed. (And the holiday is always in the middle of the work week to make sure it’s “for real!”) It’s our family’s favorite!
My parents often joke that we have too many traditions. Scott and I love them! But we feel that our traditions and time together has strengthened our family and helped us grow spiritually and together!
6. Go on daddy-daughter dates and father-and-sons’ outings with your children.
My first date at 16 years old was with my dad! He came to the front door with a rose and took me to dinner and for a drive over the Colorado National Monument. I had my first prime rib. It was delicious! And I felt like a princess. Another memorable date was when my dad took me (at age 21) to see the new Disney animated movie, “Beauty and the Beast!” I loved it! And was so glad my dad took me to see it! I learned how to be treated like a lady by the dates I had with my dad! Those outings fathers go on with their children are precious memories! I highly encourage them!
7. Teach your children to work. Show them the value of working toward a worthy goal.
Katia recently went to work for her dad. She learned the value of hard work from him. And is loving the physical labor and challenging herself to keep up with the other employees to prove herself. She learned that from her dad also. And we know, from the scriptures, that being industrious is something to strive for. I’m so glad Scott loves hard work and loves working with and for his family!
8. Have your children see your joy and satisfaction in service to the Church. This can become contagious to them, so they, too, will want to serve in the Church and will love it!
Both my husband and my father have helped me realize how wonderful it is to serve in the Church. It truly brings me joy to watch them serve and to emulate their selfless service.
Sooooo… you, as fathers, can do so much for the salvation and exaltation of your families! Your responsibilities are so important! Remember your sacred calling as a father is the most important calling you’ll ever have! I’m grateful for the dads in my life. And I am especially grateful for my Heavenly Father. I cannot wait to be in His presence again someday. And to thank Him for His love….