A Personal Word to Fathers

Please hear this caveat to this post: my father became a Christ follower when he was 71 years old, three years prior to his passing. I grew to love him much in those latter years, and I miss him now.

Nevertheless, my dad and I lived in two different worlds prior to his conversion. He had quite a temper, and I grew up both fearing him and disliking him at times. When I became a believer at age 13, my church became the place to retreat from my home. I longed for a dad like the men I met in my church. God finally gave me that kind of man when dad followed Christ, but He did so in His time – much later than I would have liked.

Now, I’m 54 years old at the time of this writing, and I still think about what I wish my father had given me. The older I get, the more I realize how important a father is to his sons. Here are some things I wish I had received from my dad:

  1. Practical skills – My dad was a tool and die machinist, and he was very handy with his hands. He was also a great auto mechanic. Every time I pay someone now to repair my car or to fix something in my house, I wish Dad had taught me more. 
  2. Prayer support – I listen to some of my students today talk about fathers who prayed regularly with them, and I still wish I had such memories. I know my non-believing dad at the time couldn’t give me that gift, but the void was still real.
  3. Sex education – I learned about pornography by accident at a young age, and my understanding of sex was quickly skewed. Women became objects rather than gifts. I wish my dad had talked to me about intimacy and love.
  4. A pornography-free home – This request is related to the previous one. Most guys find pornography somewhere at some point in their life; however, I think my struggle would have been much less potent if I had less access to the junk. 
  5. Marriage role model – My parents loved one another, but I never saw the gospel picture of marriage. To this day – and my wife and I have been married for 24+ years – I still watch how other Christian men love their spouse. I’m still looking for the role model I wish my dad had been.
  6. Personal affirmation – Late in my dad’s life, he told me how proud of me he had always been. That was great to hear, but how I would have loved to know that many years earlier! At least in my case, a dad’s affirmation means more than a dad can know. 
  7. Budgeting/spending advice – My dad did teach me to work hard, but no one taught me about budgeting, saving, etc. I now wonder how much money I wasted or lost over the years before I learned about budgeting on my own.
  8. Warranted apologies – Only once do I remember my dad ever saying, “I’m sorry” to me – and I’m sure that’s because he saw the fear and frustration in my eyes after one of his eruptions. I’m not arguing that my dad owed me anything, but other apologies when warranted probably would have helped me to look at him differently. 

What would you add to this list?


  • David says:

    Thanks for bearing your heart here Dr. Lawless. If my dad were a believer I’d say I would have loved a bible study with him. As a non believer I would been satisfied just having healthy one on one time.

  • christophercarder says:

    Hey Dr. Lawless, thanks for opening your life up here. I have two things to add. First of all, my dad was seldom home. He was a musician. He worked a day job and then would go to his evening gigs to play drums for many different venues in the Atlanta area. So, I believe I have always struggled with ‘knowing’ God was always with me. I believe and know it is true but still struggle with that, especially in my earlier years. Also, He WAS a musician. But he never encouraged any of his children to venture in that arena. So, since I have traveled down that road, I feel like I sort of stole back something that the devil stole from my dad. Wish I could have played a lot of music with him…..he was a great drummer. God bless ya!

  • Joe Pastor says:

    Thank you for sharing transparently. I can relate. My own situation with my father was somewhat different than you describe, and yet I can relate to much of what you said in this post. My own dad was emotionally and relationally absent. He was there–but not there. The one thing I would say I wish I had seen was any level of involvement in my life growing up. Only two times in my life did he “invest” in me: He taught me how to ride a bicycle. And he threw the baseball with me in the yard–once. That’s it. He died just before my 17th birthday. So in many ways, God has been my father. And I have tried to learn from the past and be a better day to my two sons that my dad was to me. Still. . .all these years later, I still have baggage from the lack of my relationship with my father. I suspect there are many of us with “dad issues.”

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