Happy Father's Day

A few years back, the Swiss did a study on the roles of parents in passing on faith practice to their children. Some of their results:

  • If both father and mother attend church regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly.
  • If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church.
  • What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing, as if loyalty to father’s commitment grows in proportion to mother’s laxity, indifference, or hostility.
  • Even when the father is an irregular attender there are some extraordinary effects. An irregular father and a non-practicing mother will yield 25 percent of their children as regular attenders in their future life and a further 23 percent as irregulars. This is twelve times the yield where the roles are reversed.

 (To read the full article, “The Truth about Men and Church,” from Touchstone Magazine,
Now, this is a slightly dated study, but still carried out in an industrialized, modernized Western nation. The dramatic results must still speak to us in the United States today.
In our current culture, where the role of the father in the formation of healthy children is frequently dismissed, we do well to remember that God, indeed, has revealed himself as Father. He also compares himself to a mother as creator and nurturer. He has given us Mary as the First Disciple and the ultimate role model in following Jesus. But he has never voided the role of the father in Scripture, in the teachings of the Church, and in the lived experience of even our enlightened modern civilization.
Dads may not be politically correct in many modern systems, but that does not make them obsolete in the plan of God.
As society works strenuously to remove dysfunctional, harmful and even evil fathers from the lives of children and families, we should not forget the other side of the coin.   We should work with equal vigor to love and support fathers, to enable healthy fathering relationships for our children and to value men and dads as much as we have come to value women and mothers.
God created us to be male and female, fathers and mothers. In that wonderful plan, children are conceived, welcomed into the world and raised to be healthy, happy and believing adults.
Happy Fathers’ Day, Dads. We love you.