The roles of fathers and mothers are downplayed in our society. The scorn comes from those who do not fully appreciate or catch the vision or have tasted the joy of being a father or a mother. Both are necessary ingredients not only in producing a child but in raising and rearing one. Fathers and mothers have unique roles that when used together create an ideal environment for children to flourish. There are numerous studies that show this even a series of articles called “The Father Factor” that is worth reading. Although there are overlaps in what mothers and fathers do there is enough of a difference, a critical difference, that make each an important part of a child’s life.
Fathers typically are the ones who go out and work to make money that provides housing, food, clothing, and other material goods. That’s not what fatherhood is though. Fatherhood is strength and honor. It is a relationship of love and understanding, counsel and instruction. It is true manliness shown in power and action as a father interacts with his children in a way that guides them and provides security both physically and emotionally.
“In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence — both in my life and in the lives of others,” President Barack Obama wrote in an article for Parade Magazine. “I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference.”
My children are blessed with one of the greatest fathers! When asked who is more fun my children will always answer, “Dad!” That’s because fathers typically use playfulness to interact with their children. They need that rough and tumble physical interaction that fathers provide.
Being thrown in the air, wrestling, working hard outside in the yard or on the farm – all provide a sense of security. The interaction my children have as they work with their dad in incalculable. It provides a safe place for them to talk and laugh and learn.
My husband loves the Lord and my children know it. They see him studying the scriptures, reading General Conference talks, and serving in his calling as a bishop. He is the one they go to first when they have gospel questions. He is able to bring the scriptures alive in the way he retells stories. His prayers bring heaven a little closer.
Behind the rough farmer hands is a kind gentle heart. He gets emotional when he talks about his family. There is nothing more manly than seeing him cradle a newborn or walk with a toddler. I am so grateful for a husband who is dedicated to his role as a father, who truly feels he is rich beyond measure because he has a wife and children who adore him. He is a father and he matters to us!
“Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother’s image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child’s mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness the first assurance that there is love in the world.” President David O. McKay (Teachings: David O. McKay,Chapter 16: The Noble Calling of Parents)
The most service I ever do is my day in and day out work as a mother. Tending to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of children can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting. It can also be very mundane and repetitive. Sometimes, I admit, it gets hard to mop a floor knowing it will just be sticky an hour later. Folding the never-ending pile of laundry – wait, did I say folding? It needs to be washed first! We are behind on that. Making more towels dirty cleaning up the house just doesn’t sound right does it? It is a never ending cycle.
You know what else is never ending? The sun always rises in the morning and sets in the evening but the sunrise and sunset never look the same. The seasons too cycle round and round but even in their constancy there is change. God, who is a God of order, is also a God of beauty. And there is beauty in the every-day, never changing caring for my family. I am so grateful to be a wife and a mother!
I am the one my children come to when they are hurt or have an “owie.” They come when they want a hug or reassurance that things will be okay. Mothers provide a softer touch, a gentler way. Mothers are the perfect complement to fathers.
Fathers and mothers matter!
One of the hardest parts of parenthood is it takes literally years upon years before we really see the fruition of all our work and effort. We can often feel as if we have failed, especially because we are associating with our children day after day it is hard for us to see if they are progressing. Keeping an eternal perspective, our minds fixed on what is truly important, is crucial to make it through the nitty-gritty taxing times of fatherhood and motherhood. Having the right priorities will help us keep that perspective.
I love the following snippet from an article, The Joys of Motherhood. It provides a wonderful description of what we are trying to do in our home as husband and wife, mother and father.
“Lofty, beautiful, and serene, a celestial orb glistens in a luminescent sky. Far below on the frontier of a dark wilderness in a tiny fortress live some strangers from the splendid place above. Their home is an outpost, reflecting some of the glory of the celestial homeland but surrounded by darkness and constantly under attack.
“Now as day dawns, a woman in the outpost arises from sleep and on her knees opens the communication lines between her home and the orb above. A conduit sheds light and strength upon her, and serenity fills her heart, peace floods her soul, and light overflows from within her. The wilderness pulls away from her bastion, overwhelmed by the light. She turns to her sacred books, seeking guidance from the holy home above.
“A baby cries; she closes the books and turns away. Children’s voices intrude on her thoughts. Diapers, breakfast, lost socks to find, lunches to prepare. “I’m late, honey; hurry and gather the children for family prayer.” “Why is that boy always late? He’s keeping the whole family waiting.” “Brent had his eyes open during the prayer.” “How do you know? You peeked.” The conduit of light from above begins to fade. The wilderness moves closer to the little outpost; black tendrils slither around the doors, seeking a tiny opening, testing, probing.
“Stacks of dishes, mountains of laundry, baskets of mending, jars and cans and boxes and pots of food. Machines humming, stove cooking, children playing, baby crying. Television on—loud laughter, funny situations, chastity ridiculed, adultery commonplace, screams, shots, violence, more laughter, pretty clothes, expensive houses, very witty little children, unhappy families, drinking, laughing, knives, guns, blood. Black tendrils wrap around and around the TV antenna.
“The children become bored; the woman draws them around her and teaches them, reads stories, gives hugs and kisses. Later, when the children are napping, she has time for some reading. “Parents have no right to impose their ideas on children.” “Never say ‘no.’” “Never punish a child.” “If the child is not successful, it is the parents who have failed.”
“She pushes away the darkness by turning to other books: “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6). “They shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:28). “Teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (Mosiah 4:15).
“Oh, Johnny, are you writing on the walls again?”
“Family members come back to the outpost from their excursions into the wilderness. Some of them still have darkness clinging to them. “But everyone else gets to.” “I’m too dumb to do this math.” “Sorry I can’t do my chores—I’ve got tons of homework.” Parents work to dispel the darkness and to help their family return to the light. A friend calls: “I’m discouraged and you make me feel guilty. I don’t see why you try so hard when it’s not worth it. What do you expect, perfection?”
“With evening comes more darkness. “Hurry, hurry, no time to talk.” “So much to do, not enough time.” “More money—we need more things.” The woman goes about searching out shadows and tendrils, pushing them out, locking the doors and windows against them. She makes room for light, strengthens her defenses, and stockpiles ammunition for another day of battle. “Let’s read a story from the Bible.” “Tell me what you did today that made you happy.” “What do you think you can do tomorrow that will help you and Johnny get along better?” “Time for family prayer.” “Could I listen to your prayers?” “I’ll tuck you in bed when you’re ready.” “Of course I have time to listen to you.”
“In the dark of the night, the woman and her husband look out and note that the wilderness is a fraction of an inch farther away than yesterday. They kneel again and catch a tiny glimmer of the splendor they have part in creating, and they are dazzled by the glory.
“Science fiction? Not exactly, for scattered about the earth are small outposts of the kingdom of God where men and women join with God in creation—not just the creation that ends with the birth of a child, but the ongoing creation of celestial homes that begins at the altar and continues throughout eternity.”
Isn’t the imagery just beautiful? We are the guardians of our homes! Our homes are small outposts of the kingdom of God, reflecting some of the glory of heaven but surrounded by darkness and constantly under attack. By making room for light through prayer, scripture study, and service we strengthen our defenses and push back the wilderness a fraction of an inch at a time. As we work together as a husband and wife to provide a safe haven for our family we will be blessed to “catch a tiny glimmer of the splendor we have a part in creating.”
We are also not alone. There are other families out there, other mothers and fathers, doing their very best to fight against the darkness by shining their own lights. Catching those glimmers in the distance gives us hope to try again the next day.
This post is part of a blogger round-up with these fabulous bloggers! Make sure to visit each to read what they are sharing about the divine roles of fathers and mothers.