I had the pleasure of spending time with the sweetest little 2 1/2-year-old toddler. She was precocious and animated. She was full of enthusiasm and expression. She held the power to melt our hearts and make us smile. She had big brown eyes and long eyelashes. Her curly brown hair was pulled up into a pony tail like a precious moment figurine. She talked and talked and talked in her little munchkin voice and although we couldn’t understand half of it, she had our full attention. Her presence filled the air with happiness. She stole our hearts.
It was evident that she liked us too. She had everyone doing her bidding. We would take turns walking her upstairs and letting her throw a balloon from the loft so she could watch it float to the floor. Each time she would squeal with excitement and rush to go back down and get the balloon. When she realized she wasn’t having much luck anymore with the ladies she began working the men. She marched up to my husband and said “Daddy, Lets go!”
We all shared a good laugh considering he isn’t her daddy and our two youngest kids will be turning 18 in less than a month. Of course it didn’t stop her from continuing to call him Daddy for the rest of the night. For my husband “Daddy” is a title he’s worn well over the years. In fact he’s been Daddy to more kids than we can count. Many of those kids, now men, now young women, have told us so. Some of them we are still very close to.
It made me wonder, what was it that made her call him Daddy? Why would a little girl who’d only met us once before and was too young to remember it give him a title that was so meaningful? She had called me Xena when I asked her what my name was. Her mom said she liked that name and I took it as a complement since it made me think of a warrior princess. The innocence of her declarations made us all take a moment to consider what it was that would make her give him the title, Daddy. We all agreed. In essence what this little girl was saying was, You are a daddy figure. You’re not just a man. You’re a man I can trust. You’re a man who is approachable. You’re a man who is gentle. You’re a man whose voice is full of kindness. You’re a man in whose arms I am safe and I am loved. You’re a man of character. Those were the qualities that reminded her of her “Daddy”.
The problem is not all Daddies live up to the title. According to a report published in 2006 titled The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children by Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox, they found that:
one of the most important influences A father can have on his child is indirect…A father who has a good relationship with the mother of his children is more likely to be involved and to spend time with their children and to have children who are psychologically and emotionally healthier. Similarly, a mother who feels affirmed by her children’s father and who enjoys the benefits of a happy relationship is more likely to be a better mother. Indeed, the quality of the relationship affects the parenting behavior of both parents.
Rosenberg and Wilcox go on to explain that fathers set the example for their children in behavior patterns. For instance boys learn to be respectful toward women if their fathers are treating their mothers respectfully and conversely girls learn how they should expect to be treated with respect. They explain that studies support the idea that men who are angry and abusive are more likely to have children who are anxious, withdrawn, or antisocial. The report also shows that children of fathers who are involved are less likely to suffer abuse and more likely to have positive educational outcomes.
In a nutshell Daddies are irreplaceable.
Did you also know that the rate of single moms in the us alone is estimated to be about 80% of the 12 million single parent families? That means, according to the US census bureau, 17.4 million kids (under 18) are being raised by single moms! To make matters more grim 45% of those families live below the poverty line. That means 17.4 million kids are possibly missing out on learning to respect and be respected. That means that 17.4 million kids are going unprotected and missing out on the opportunity of a brighter more successful future. That means that 17.4 million kids may never rise above the level of poverty.
Why am I telling you this? Because I was recently reminded by a little 2 1/2 year old just how important Daddies are. If you are a Daddy you have an impact on the outcome of the lives of your children in the small choices you make everyday. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. ESV.
Equally important, if God blessed you with the qualities that make up the character to be a Daddy figure than you have an opportunity. You have the opportunity to teach a child how to respect and how to be respected, you have an opportunity to protect a child from harm, and you have the opportunity to lead a child to a more successful education. The ironic part is with all those Daddy-less babies out there, you don’t have to be a baby daddy to do it.