By Rev. James Henley
My wife was eight years old when her dad died. She was one of eight children remaining in the home when he died. I am still amazed at the intimate detail in which she recalls the moments she shared with him during their short time together. If you could just see her face when she talks about how her dad would pick her up and sit her on his lap and tell her just how special she was, you would understand the impression her dad made on her. She never forgot. So when asked to write why it is important to have a father, I thought, “Why not ask my four children?”
My 31-year-old daughter wrote, “My daddy is important to me because he 1) helps me develop a strong sense of community, 2) provides support and guidance, 3) displays how to make Christ visible by always being the Good Samaritan, 4) makes sure I am never in need and 5) teaches me the value of hard work.” She is a pharmacist and as you can tell quite logical.
My 24-year-old daughter wrote, “I need my father for support, guidance, discipline, self-esteem, love, and as a role model. The first role models a child has are the adults they see every day. These are the people they emulate. Support: By giving me encouragement to try new things. Self Esteem: A girl who grows up knowing she’s beautiful because her dad tells her, doesn’t need to hear it. Guidance: Advice-giver, led me to Christ. Discipline: As much as it’s hated at the time, it is necessary. Love: Agape—knowing it’s always there with your dad no matter what is a powerful thing. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my daddy.” She is in her first year of teaching at Jim Hill High School and a recently certified Zumba instructor.
My 21-year-old daughter wrote, “My father is important because he is the pillar of love and support that I know will never be taken away. No matter what happens or what we have done to disappoint him, he has been there to help pick up the pieces and give advice to help us with growing up. Sometimes as a young adult and a child, we may not have understood why it was done that way or taken from us, but one day we will be able to think back and understand why, because we know our daddy wants only the best for us.” She is a junior Music Education major at William Carey University.
Concerning the importance of a dad, my 18-year-old son wrote, “I live in a house full of women. If it were not for my father, I probably wouldn’t know the meaning of being a man. My father is like the foundation of our family. He stabilizes and makes sure all things are organized and taken care of. Not only does he make time to take care of things but he also does it when he already has things scheduled for himself. My father is the type of man that doesn’t sugar coat anything. No matter what the situation, he’s not going to tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. Yet, he does it all in a caring and loving manner.” He is a freshman at Hinds Community College.
As you can probably tell from my children, the father plays a different role in each child’s life. Each child sees his or her father from a different perspective. However, I believe the most important role a father serves is simply to be there. He needs to make sure his children understand that no matter what the situation, they can call him. I learned this from my father who transitioned November 20, 2014.
In closing, my wife’s mom is a shining example of what a single mother can accomplish. Her mother raised eight children after her father died. My wife is both an attorney and CPA plus she has an MBA. But when I hear her talk about her dad, I know she wishes he had been there longer. He instilled in her that she was special. That is why fathers are important.
James L. Henley, Jr. is a native Jacksonian. He is both an attorney and CPA. He has served as Pastor of Fresh Start Christian Church in Jackson for the past 10 years. He is married to Vivian C. Henley. Visit www.FreshStartChristian.com or contact him for more information at Pastor@FreshStartChristian.com.