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Real Answers™
Copyright: ©2008 Jill Darling
720 words


By: Jill Darling

As a youngster I enjoyed watching Father Knows Best, My Three Sons and Leave it to Beaver. As an adult, these beloved shows became the target of ridicule. With women’s lib, increasing divorce rates and unruly kids, families didn’t act like those in the black-and-white sitcoms of yesteryear. While I agree that the programs didn’t depict normal family life as we know it, I believe the fathers, with their positive character qualities, were role models for what was right and good. They portrayed how life should be lived as an honest, upstanding citizen and gave viewers of all ages an ideal to aspire to.

What have we replaced these archaic fathers with? For the last 30 years, sitcoms typically characterize fathers as incompetent buffoons, mothers as wise and virtuous creatures and kids as smart-mouthed and rebellious. In an effort to correct the stereotypical feminine role of the 1960s, the pendulum swung too far the other way and men and fathers, in particular, have been minimalized and denigrated. A study by the National Fatherhood Initiative found that fathers are eight times more likely than mothers to be portrayed negatively on network television.

Instead of promoting strong, loving father figures that children desperately need, writers have done men a disservice. Men are pummeled by the entertainment and advertising industries. Then we wonder why fathers don’t take a more supportive role in the family.

I believe both genders need to be portrayed in a positive light. We need balance and truth. Fathers have a God-given destiny to shape the lives of their children and, along with mothers, are their foremost role models.

We’ve heard the well-worn cliché, “like father, like son.” It’s true. It’s not, “do as I say, but not as I do.” Life doesn’t work that way. If fathers swear, children will swear. If fathers get drunk, children will drink. If fathers are womanizers their sons will be too. Likewise, if fathers are honest, generous and kind, their children will follow suit. If husbands are patient and loving toward their wives and help around the house, their children will do the same in their households.

Fathers are responsible to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Charles R. Swindoll, a nationally recognized pastor, author and speaker, talks about the importance of fathers giving of themselves in his article “For Dads:”

It’s the toys vs. time battle: a dad’s desire to make up for his long hours and absence by unloading material stuff on his family rather than being there when he is needed. Like in the bleachers during ball games or in the audience during a band concert…or driving the boat when your child is learning to water ski. Nothing takes the place of a father who gets involved. Nothing!

I think of the fathers I know and admire and see the rewards of time spent in shaping the lives of their children. I recall all the times my husband Pete taught our boys how to make lean-tos in the woods, build fires and tie knots, which he’d usually tie in with a spiritual application or a life lesson. These same skills and truths were passed down to him from his father, Norman. As our son Greg now takes his boys for a hike in the woods, the tradition continues.

My brother-in-law, Jim Santacrose, will never know the countless lives he’s touched with his playful nature of wrestling with his children and grandchildren or his rally of an impromptu game of catch that spills over to the rest of the cousins. The love and encouragement he exhibits toward children and the resulting sparkle in their eyes says it all—a positive impression made—a deposit for life.

What a difference it would make if television cameras captured and promoted these “reality shows.” It’s time for men and boys to have respectable examples of strong male role models to follow. It’s time for fathers to take back their rightful place in the media. Happy Father’s Day to all the dedicated fathers who make a difference by investing in the next generation. I applaud you.


"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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