Your children need you. Unfortunately, we live in a world where many fathers are not there for their children. In fact, in 2011, the US Census Bureau found that nearly 1 in 4 children lived in a single-mother household (1). Fathers are not staying with their families. This is due to several factors. Since these factors are not the focus of this post, however, I will leave them for a later date. What you need to know right now is that your children need you. They need to see you. They need to know you. They need to love you. They need to feel your love.
Households without a father figure can cause significant strain on a mother and all of her children. In fact, nearly half of all households that are run by single mothers without a father figure live in poverty (2). The sad part is that this number appears to be increasing over time rather than decreasing. Children who live in poverty face all sorts of challenges that many of us do not have to deal with. The point I am making is simple: Fathers, stick with your families. Raise your children. Support their mother. Your children need you for several reasons.
1. Your children need you to provide a moral example for them.
Children are very impressionable, and the way they see their father live will have an impact on the rest of their lives. Your children need you to stick with them and to live your life in such a way that the way you live your life will provide them guidance down the road. If you do not provide them with a moral example, someone else will. It may be possible for them to find a good example in a youth minister or community leader. It is also possible, and perhaps more likely, that they will find this example in someone who is on the wrong side of the law. It is possible that they will turn to their peers for this example--peers who may not have a strong moral example themselves. This is not a gamble that you should be willing to take.
2. Your children need you to provide a foundation for their faith.
It is not good enough to provide a moral example. Your children will look to you for spiritual guidance as well as moral guidance. You need to be sound in your faith so that you can help your children grow in the faith. This is not a job for your local pastor. This is not a job for leaders in the church. I am not saying that these individuals cannot help in this capacity. However, the person responsible for ensuring that your children grow in the faith as they grow up is you.
You may be objecting, "Travis, I am not strong enough to provide my children with this foundation." Then grow in your faith yourself. Start with the little things. Read and meditate on Scripture. Set aside time for prayer every day. Do not make excuses. What you will soon discover is that you are setting an example for your children by your spiritual walk.
I personally know what kind of an impact a godly lifestyle can have on a child's life. When I was young, I lived with my grandparents. My grandfather was a Methodist minister who took his faith seriously. When I was young, I was not a Christian, but I saw the example that he set. Later, when I became a Christian, I began to realize how much of an impact he had on my life by the way that he lived his. I did not realize it at the time. Trust me, I realize it now. You could make the difference in your child's faith-life, just like my grandfather made a profound difference in mine.
3. Your children need you to love them.
Children need the love of both a mother and a father. I am not talking about an emotion. I am talking about the dedication to raise, lead, and seek the best for your children. If you truly love your children, then stay with them through the good times and bad. If you truly love your children, then seek the best for them in every situation, even when it is not something that you want. If you truly love your children, give them your time, energy, and focus. If you truly love your children, love their mother. If you truly love your children, then do not neglect them. I can tell you that many children would rather be living under a bridge and have both of their parents than to have a nice place to live, but not have their father.
Your children need you for more reasons that I could list here. Just know, fathers, that your children need you far more than you realize. Do not neglect them.