It is unfortunate that we live in a day where it is common for children to have only a single parent rather than both a mother and father in the home.
This is a sad situation, not only for the children but for the parents as well. No one wants to come from an incomplete home. Few people want the added stress of raising a family all on their own, but it is a reality for many.
I am fortunate to have had both parents in my home growing up. That isn’t to say that my dad and I had a perfect relationship, there was a lot of butting heads in those days, but I appreciated him.
When I was ten or so, I remember that there was a family day at his work where we were invited to go out to the aluminum factory to see the place where my dad spent so much of his time. As we started walking through the giant buildings, I noticed how dark and unfeeling they were. There were rocks and dirt all over the inside of the buildings on the floors, there was dark smoke and so much noise that I couldn’t think. It was the opposite of everything I had ever cherished. The heat inside the buildings was uncomfortable. I grew sick to my stomach almost immediately and couldn’t even finish the tour. It was a depressing place for me to be for even just a few minutes. In my self-centeredness at that age, I had never known what my dad was going through at work or the many hours he spent cooped up in a place I considered horrible, just to provide for his family. Dads have a difficult job.
Power of Example
When we read the story of the stripling warriors and their beautiful example of obedience to the Lord, we usually give credit to those wonderful mothers who taught their sons the gospel. Perhaps we fail to notice that the fathers played a part as well in the outcomes of the sons’ efforts.
In the 56th chapter of Alma, verse 27, we read, “And now it came to pass in the second month of this year, there was brought unto us many provisions from the fathers of those my two thousand sons.” The Proclamation to the World says, “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.” 1 These righteous fathers provided for the physical needs to keep their sons going in the work of defense. Helaman then talks about these boys as if they were his sons. What kind of special relationship does that stir up in your mind?
When the Savior mentions those whom his followers need to care for, he includes “the fatherless.” James 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction…”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Brethren, we all know fatherhood is not an easy assignment, but it ranks among the most imperative ever given, in time or eternity. We must not pull away from our children. We must keep trying, keep reaching, keep praying, keep listening. We must keep them ‘within the clasp of our arms’.” 2 A father’s role is essential, no matter the family situation.
To the fathers out there who work hard to provide for their families, bless you. Your work is incredibly important. Your relationship with your children is no less significant if you live outside of their home. May God ever magnify your efforts in this holy work.
- A Proclamation to the World, www.lds.org, 1995
- “Within the Clasp of Your Arms”, Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, May 1983, pg. 38