Sometimes when we want to compliment a good father, we say, “He’s such an involved father.”
We like that he’s involved with his family, plays with his kids, listens to them. But never once have I heard, “She’s such an involved mother.” That’s not something we celebrate. Why is this?
I think we expect mothers to be involved. It goes with the position. It’s part of being a mom. To acknowledge an involved mother is stating the obvious, like saying she’s a motherly mother or has wider hips. There’s no need to be redundant. And there’s no need to celebrate when she does what she’s supposed to do. I never congratulate the sun for setting, I just expect it to set.
But it’s different with fathers, isn’t it? We really don’t expect fathers to be that involved. We have a different standard for them. Fathers are the second string parent, the understudy. They go in when mom’s sick or impaled by a Lincoln Log, but only until she’s better. Then dad returns to the background.
So in the case that we do find an involved father, we need to point it out, make a big deal of it, because we don’t know when another will come along. We gawk and we chortle, “Just look how involved he is,” like we’ve spotted an endangered species, the elusive Involved Father. Maybe we have.
I’ve written before that the great sin of fatherhood is absence. This led me to get rid of my smartphone and get a dumbphone instead. Absence can be physical, emotional, or spiritual, or all of the above. Absence flows from passivity, which seems to be the sin of manhood. Just look at the first man.
God placed Adam in the garden and gave one command, not to eat the fruit. Then God created Eve. One day a serpent tried to tempt Eve to eat the fruit. She said she wasn’t supposed to. This was good, Adam had taught Eve the command of God. But Eve caved and ate the fruit anyway. So my question is, where was Adam? Was he hunting for dinner or naming the plants? No he wasn’t.
Genesis 3.6 says, “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
Did you catch that? Where was Adam? He was standing right beside her. Adam was at Eve’s side, watching her be tempted. He knew what God had said. He knew what he had taught his wife. He knew what was right. But Adam didn’t do anything, not a thing. He stood back and let the curse fall.
The proclivity for passivity was in Adam, and it’s in all men. It leads to absent fathers.
But there’s good news. Adam wasn’t the only man, and we don’t have to follow in his footsteps. Jesus Christ is the Second Adam, and he created a new manhood for us. And this new manhood enables a new fatherhood, one marked by physical, emotional, and spiritual stewardship of whom we’ve been entrusted.
So one day, involved fathers won’t be the exception, but the norm.