A couple years ago I wrote an essay entitled, “Father to Son” dedicated to my father and son, Richard A. Young, I and Richard A. Young, III. In that essay I lifted the attributes of my father that I gleaned from him and the importance of him being a very important part of my life, and my son’s role in keeping me grounded and the inspiration he gives me as one looking to me for guidance in his manhood. He demonstrated this by literally following me around the house to the point that I nearly tripped over him. When I questioned him on why he was doing this he shared with me my own Bible study teaching that, the son watches the father, and what the father does the son does. He said, “Where you go, I want to go.” Out of the mouths of babes you have perfected praise, and his statement told me how impressionable he is and how closely he watches me and aspires to be like his father. This helped me to see how important it is for me to watch what I do in front of him and to exemplify righteous manhood in front of him at all times. He was 9 years old then, and now he is 12. I am proud of the young man he is developing in to. I am finding that the relationship we develop as father and son is vital to his survival and prosperity. Life as a young black man in America is difficult in itself, but with a solid father/son relationship he will be able to weather the storms of life and build his manhood on a solid foundation.
What is a father? Is he merely a man who produces children? Genealogically we can say that. The dictionary defines a father as a male parent. The Bible agrees that a father is a progenitor, begetter, and originator, but it also goes on to include that a father is one in intimate connection and relationship, committed to bringing into being to pass on the potential for likeness. The relationship makes the difference. Jesus says , “I and the Father are one. When you see Me you’ve seen the Father.” Jesus had an intimate relationship with His father which shaped and molded Him and gave Him the confidence to perform the duties His father set Him out to do. He learned from His father and trusted Him. The father also loves Him and shares with Him every good thing He needs. God also does the same for us as His children. Physically He gives us life, and spiritually, through regeneration (the second birth), He gives eternal life. Through our relationship with Him we grow in His grace and Way. Through prayer, we talk with Him daily, through study, we learn of Him and His ways, and through evangelism, fellowship and ministry, we share Him with others and participate in His redemptive work.Realizing this, I wonder about those who do not have a father present in their home or lives. What is a fatherless son to do? In our community especially we have an unprecedented amount of missing fathers, whether they be deceased, imprisoned, or absent by choice. I applaud generations of black mothers who have carried on in spite of, and raised wonderful, prosperous people and productive citizens. Still, I must ask, would it have been easier and better for a functional father to be present and work with his female counterpart? Aren’t children more likely to succeed in life and be well -rounded mentally and spiritually? Aren’t children more confident in their self-hood with a balanced family culture and functional family paradigm? Where are our father, our protectors, our providers, our strength? What do our sons, especially, do when fathers are absent? Where do they turn? Who do they look to for guidance, mentoring, and role-models? We could say, “it takes a village to raise a child.” This is true, but the entire village is not present when an abundant amount of our men are absent, despite the reason why.