Susan Walsh has a new post for Father’s Day explaining the importance of fathers in their children’s lives. I agree whole heartedly with this. However, she closes her post with this:
The most important criterion you can apply to choosing a husband is his potential to be an excellent father.
With this idea, I fully disagree. Yes, of course, finding a man who will be a good father to your children is important. But it should not be the most important thing. This subordinates respect for perceived paternal value. Can a man who is a good father be worthy of respect? Of course. But does that mean any man who would make a good father will be worthy of it? No.
If a woman decides to marry a man with the idea of fatherhood as her highest priority then she is marrying a man for the potential of children, not out of respect and love for the man. This is a huge part of the foundation of any marriage. Without this foundation what will happen if children do not come or when the children are on their own? If a woman cannot respect first and then love a man, it is of no matter whether or not he will make a good father as they will not be able to provide the foundation for a good marriage and a happy family.
A wife must respect her husband if there is to be hope for a strong and happy marriage that leads to the stability needed for solid and happy children. However, that respect cannot simply be given. It is something that must be earned. If a man suspects that a woman he wishes to marry does not fully respect him, then he should not marry her, for if there is no respect her love will eventually fade and possibly die completely. If a woman finds herself considering marriage with a man whom she believes would make a wonderful father to her children, but whom she does not respect she should not settle for this man. For even if he would be able to care and provide for his children, if there is no respect from the wife, there will be no respect from the children. If there is no respect from the children the man will not be able to teach them so many of the important lessons that only a father can. In this kind of marriage and with the tension that will come with it, the mother will also not be able to teach and pass on those things that only a mother can.
Respect should be first and foremost, in any marriage (and from this respect, love). Most men who are worthy of respect, true respect (not simply strong attraction) will make an excellent father. Simply having the skills of a good father, do not make a man worthy of respect. A husband and a marriage need true respect. Without it the foundation of the marriage will weaken and possibly burn and the family will suffer gravely for it.
**To all of you who are Fathers, Happy Father’s Day.
The following is the blessing said at the end of Mass at my church yesterday:
God our Father,
in your wisdom and love you made all things.
Bless these men,
that they may be strengthened as Christian fathers.
Let the example of their faith and love shine forth.
Grant that we, their sons and daughters,
may honor them always
with a spirit of profound respect.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.