July 21, 2023
by Micol Collins
Children who grow up in homes with a father who practices their faith are more likely to attend church and continue on the same traditional faith as the father. A research study conducted over 40 years and with the goal of determining the factors that guarantee for the effective transmission of faith found that a child’s likelihood to continue on the same faith tradition as their father was directly correlated with the quality of the father-child relationship.
Does this sound surprising? It shouldn’t. After all, any one of us is more likely to continue doing something when the circumstances that originate it are positive, healthy, and bring deep joy. I can hardly think of something more positive, healthy, and joyful than a quality father-child relationship.
To date I ascribe my understanding of God from my father’s love. He taught me what God the Father was like through his perfect love for me. It was the most logical conclusion to make, that if my father loves me so, it must be that God the Father loves me the same. I was lucky to have a father like my own, and I miss him terribly.
It should come as no surprise that children learn of the character of God through their parents. How else are children supposed to concretize an understanding of what God is like? They need to put an image to the words they hear about God, and parents are the ideal candidates for that exercise.
Christ-like fathers leave a mark in the minds and hearts of the children that inspires understanding of the character of the God that created them. Let’s draw some parallels:
- Good fathers tend to challenge their children’s physical and mental abilities because they rejoice in seeing their children conquer limitations, grow, and develop. God allows us to go through trials and challenges because He loves to see us grow, develop, and conquer our limits.
- Good fathers know that correct ideas put in practice are greater guarantors of a life well-lived. Therefore, they pay attention to what is being taught to their children. They seek out the best and most powerful ideas to propel their children in the best direction possible in life. God cares a great deal that we understand those principles that are truly soul saving. Therefore, He appoints ministers, holy books, and inspires the minds of those who follow Him to produce divine and powerful ideas for the well-being of His children.
- Good fathers work and create. Whether by building a physical house and caring for animals and a garden or working at a plant, office, or at home, they do work daily and through their efforts create things and ideas that can benefit their family members. God created a world for us with all the raw materials needed to progress through life’s challenges. In nature, God’s creative and forethoughtful character are evident in this world He created, that has provided for humankind for millennia.
- Good fathers can think justly, and they can create just rules and consequences, where there are no natural consequences, for their own well-being and that of their children. They know that a just mind has great power to mold like behaviors. In the same manner, God knows, creates, and abides by laws that keep his works in place and functioning. God teaches us his laws so we can shape our minds and behaviors in ways that benefit others and oneself at the same time.
Christlike fatherhood is a precursor to all that’s truly good and helpful in this world. My father embodied several of the traits listed earlier. He modeled compassion, charitable behavior, justice, hard work, and devotion to family. His example has served me well in my life. Because my father did not give up on life’s challenges and demonstrated fortitude daily, I am motivated to continue that legacy as a mother, wife, and member of my community. Men, decide to measure up to one job that matters most and make it easy for your family members to trust in you. Women, make it clear that you won’t settle for less than the ideal and encourage men to develop in a Christlike direction with undying faith in their ability to do so. Children, honor your father’s efforts and make your parents proud. This is what truly makes the world go round.
Micol Collins is currently in her senior year at BYU-Idaho. She plans to graduate in the Fall of 2023 with a degree in Marriage and Family Studies, and then obtain a Master’s in Public Administration. She enjoys writing music, hiking, fishing, playing basketball and just staying active with her children and husband. She and her husband are the parents of three children.