Being Dad has nothing to do with fathering a child.
A father simply fulfills the biological necessity of creating a child. There is no Marital obligation to the mother and there is little to no responsibility accepted for the child’s well-being and maturity.
It is the case for millions of men worldwide who have chosen to be little more than sperm donors.
Fathers are men with children who have gotten divorced, never became a Husband, or otherwise neglect their primary duties to the children and the mother of their children.
The only excuse for this behavior is selfishness. Fathers stick out in a crowd because of it, and no matter how hard they may try to appear differently, if they are doing fatherhood, everybody knows.
What everybody knows is that they are poor excuses for taking up space on this planet.
Discerning Being a Dad
Discernment is not the process of deciding what you want to do with your life.
Discerning being a Man, fortunately, is the least difficult of all discernment for males. To be blunt, if you were born with a standalone XY chromosome pair in the 23rd autosome, God wants you to be a Man.
I say that being a Man does not automatically qualify one to be a Husband, and being a Husband is the prerequisite for being a Dad. A Man cannot be a Dad without being a Husband. And if one is going to be a Husband, he must be willing to be a Dad – the basics for that continuing discernment are presented here.
I think that in order to understand what it means to be a Dad, we first need to know what it means to be a Family. A Family at its basics is a Man and a Woman who become a Husband and a Wife. That Husband and Wife are a Family.
The Family is forever, because the Husband and Wife are only Husband and Wife if they have received each other in Holy Matrimony, and Matrimony is only Holy if it is a lifelong covenant.
Consequently, the Family cannot be split apart. We learned about that in the Husband section: What God has joined together let no man put asunder – not even the woman or man who are the Wife and Husband. Since God has joined the Husband and Wife, and they are a Family, the Family cannot be split apart.
God has provided for a way for the Family to grow. In fact, the Family is the only way for Societies and Cultures and even the Kingdom of God to grow. Sometimes, unfortunately, Societies and Cultures grow without the benefit of a Family because men do not behave as Men or Husbands, and go straight to being fathers. This in turn makes it hard for the Kingdom of God to grow, because those who are building the Kingdom have to reach, teach, rescue and reclaim those born into societies and cultures that have not been born into Families.
A Man becomes a Husband and then becomes a Dad. There is no other way to create Families than for him to first BE a Man of God, then BE a Husband to his Wife and a Dad for his children. In that order.
Because a Family is for life, being a Dad is for life. Being a Dad matters every second of a Man’s life after he has discerned that he is called to be a Husband.
So, a Man cannot discern he is to be a Husband until he has fully discerned the depth and meaning of what it is to be a Dad.
Becoming a Dad MUST be a discernment based on the Twelve Righteous Virtues learned and practiced as a Man, grounded in a level of Moral Clarity that establishes for a Man his Aptitude for Marriage – his ability to BE married – which leads him to discern that he should be married; in conjunction with the discernment based on the Matrimonial Sacrifices that determine who he should marry (Can he make those sacrifices for that particular woman) combined with the requisite understanding and free acceptance of and commitment to the qualities of being a Dad, presented here.
In today’s climate, that tends to disqualify a lot of current and would-be “dads.” But only if they have given up. Fortunately, the vocation of Dad can be aspired to and achieved even after great failure. One must return to the core vocation of being a Man, rescinding and repudiating his previous ways and walking the path of Marriage guided by the Twelve Righteous Virtues and his newfound Moral Clarity in concert with performing the Matrimonial Sacrifices relative to his Aptitude for Marriage and Aptitude for Being a Dad.
Doing fatherhood vs. Being Dad
Being Dad is a matter of knowing family matters and comes first in all obligations except the obligation to God who, in His infinite Wisdom and Love, ill never cause a Husband to choose between the two.
Being Dad is about emulating God by doing and being what Saint Joseph did and was – the Dad known by who his son is.
Being Dad is everything fatherhood is not – it requires being everything to a child, not just the sperm donor.
Dad is everything by pursuing the Abba Aptitudes – doing everything in his power to be to his children as God is to him.
Dad never gives up.
Dad never gives in.
Dad gives all.
Being a father is both simple and easy.
It’s nothing a Man should be.
Of course, I am talking about the natural definition of a father. In that context, a father is “a man in relation to his natural child or children.” If “Father” is a term of endearment at the level of Abba and Dad as described elsewhere here, then this affectionate term is not what we mean here. That’s covered in the column to the right!
Males become fathers by the sexual act when their sperm fertilizes the egg of a female. In societies and cultures today, that is all the male does relative to the child or children, so the definition above stands: a man in relation to his natural child or children.
I think it is obvious that the definition has nothing to do with “relationship.” And, even when a father has a relationship with his children, it is lacking because he is not married to the mother of the children or in other ways has abdicated his role and vocation as Husband and, therefore, as Man. The definition fits because it means a father is a man relative to his natural child or children.
By this definition, a man does not have to be present in his child’s life to be called their father. Oftentimes that presence referred to is physical, but it can be mental, emotional, and/or spiritual as well. Yes, I noticed the Four Natural Aptitudes showed up, too.
To me, a father is a male who has a child out of wedlock. It is also someone who does things with someone other than his Wife that only Husband and Wife should do that result in a child. It is also a man who has failed in his Moral Clarity as a Man, as well as a Husband who is not pursuing his utmost in the Matrimonial Sacrifices guided by his Marriage Aptitude. A divorced man also comes under the banner of “father” to me.
There are many conditions and symptoms that would reveal the individual showing those to be a father and not a Dad. That list would be immeasurably long and it is best to look in the column on the right to see what a Dad is in order to know that anything not there being done by a man is what defines a father here.
As the saying goes, any male can be a father, but…
…It takes a Man to be a Dad. In my world, “Dad: means more than just a “father.”
That’s the first step. The next step to being a Dad is being a Husband.
He accomplishes this with one very important, constant awareness on his heart and in his mind:
A Dad fears the Lord.
When he fears the Lord, he gains and grows in his Wisdom.
When he fears the Lord, he would not even let the thought of NOT being a Husband or Dad enter his mind or leave his mouth.
When he fears the Lord, he protects and nurtures his own Natural Aptitudes to grow as a Man so as to better serve his Wife and Children.
When he fears the Lord, he does not settle for being a father. The very idea is abhorrent to him.
Fear of the Lord is an understanding that God can smite a Man. It’s an understanding that God has done so in the past and will again. It’s an understanding that while modern scholarship and Biblical study tend to minimize the idea of actually fearing God – being afraid of Him – by emphasizing the awe and reverence of His being, there is still the simple fact that the basic, first and foremost truth is that fear of God is fear – plain and simple but very powerful, raw terror.
Being a Dad is simple, but not easy.
Abba is the word used by Jesus to describe his relationship with God the Father. It defines the perfected relationship of a father and son. Abba is a Greek proper noun (Ἀββᾶ) used as the term of tender endearment by a beloved child – i.e. in an affectionate, dependent relationship with their father; “daddy,” “papa.”
So I think it is simple to render from this who a Dad is supposed to Be. The perfect Dad is God, and Dads should seek that perfection – remember, perfection means hitting the mark or attaining a goal – as best as possible. Unlike the Natural Aptitudes of a Man or the Aptitude for Marriage of a Husband, the Abba Aptitudes are measured against the unchangeable nature of God the Daddy. He sets the mark that Dads have to seek to attain, and it is their ability and willingness to achieve that perfection that determines if they should be a Dad – and therefore a Husband – or not.
The Abba Aptitudes are simple – but they are not easy.
A Dad is Omnibenevolent
Abba – God, our Dad – is all-loving. So must Dads be all-loving.
We know that Agape is the highest form of love, which means there must be other forms. But all forms call for an attitude of service towards the one being loved – even our enemies.
Prayer for our enemies is the least we can do for them, and prayer is an act of love.
This standard of loving all is simple but extremely hard to do. Because of our fallen nature, we have anxieties about loving others, which typically arises from conditions we place on the love we give – even to the point of not giving the love until after we receive something or those conditions are met.
As a Dad, we are called to be all-loving to our children. Since love is an action, then all of our actions – including words – should be loving to our children.
Raise your hand if all of your actions and words have been loving to your children…
Yeah, my hand didn’t go up either.
Since we are made in the image of our Dad, I think we should be striving to be as all-loving as He is.
Simple. Not easy.
A Dad is Omnipresent
Abba – God, our Dad – is everywhere.
It may seem impossible for a human Dad to be the same, but I don’t think it is.
Mentally, Emotionally, and Spiritually (hearkening to the Natural Aptitudes) a Dad should be, and should be recognized as by his children, everywhere they are.
This comes from teaching our children so that when they are in situations when Dad is not physically present, his teaching and therefore “What would Dad do” is there.
When a child thinks and appropriately responds to a situation by saying, “My Dad wouldn’t approve,” that is the straightforward example of the Omnipresent Dad.
This is why the fad of the first decade of the 2000’s, the “What Would Jesus Do” (WWJD) movement was so popular. There is an innate sense of the omnipresence of God watching us, and we cannot disobey Him in His presence.
A Dad should have that omnipresence over his children as well, especially to ensure against those who would falsely teach our children misinterpretations of what Jesus would do – something replete in media and through false prophets on college campuses today.
WWDD – What Would Dad Do – should be the mantra of even the most atheist child. Rebellion is minimized if a child knows Dad is present.
When my son turned 15, he had about ten boys and girls at the house for his birthday party. His brothers, my Wife and I gave the group distance, allowing them the family room on the other side of the house while we were in the living room. At one point, one young man asked my son if he had ever played some video or computer game – I did not hear which. My son responded “No,” and his companion asked why. His answer, to me, exemplifies the idea of omnipresence:
“Because my Dad doesn’t want me to and that’s good enough for me.”
This is my 15 year-old son.
Turns out the answer was good enough for the young man who asked, too.
My son knew the answer – one of the rules in our family is that “just because” or “because I said so” is not an answer – answers must have reasons. But he knew that it was neither the time or place, with so many guests, to get into a philosophical gaming debate, especially when, if pressed, my son knew he could tell his friend to go talk to me to get it from the horse’s mouth.
Knowing I am omnipresent in my child’s life gives me greter confidence sending him off to college in a few years…
A Dad is Omniscient
Abba – God, our Dad – knows everything.
A child looks to their Dad for guidance in all things, and Dad must know more than the child, and the child must know that, for Dad to be Dad. From the cute idea my own kids have that I know every song ever sung on the radio – they know that it comes from the experience I had as a DJ decades ago – to knowing what they are listening to and therefore obviously knowing everything they know – omniscience in the relationship is key.
Dads do not know everything, but they must know everything their children face – from scripture to slang to anything affecting the development of their own Natural Aptitudes. A Dad like me who is a historian will never know the engineering that my son plans to go into – but I will always know the moral implications of the work he may produce and the nature of the environment in which he works.
While a human being can truly never know anything, to his children he actually does know everything if he knows he does not know everything. It is far wiser for a Dad to admit to a child his ignorance of something than to make something up.
By admitting that I don’t know everything – for instance just today I had to look up and do the math to figure out how long it would take a person to get to the nearest galaxy beyond our own at the speed at which men got to the Moon (about 54 Million Years!) – my children know that I will find out, and they learn how to do that. They learn that no knowledge is beyond their reach, and it prepares my boys to be Dads in the future, if that is their vocation.
Even if I don’t know everything, my children rely on me knowing what they need to know, and to them that is everything. If I refuse to find out what they need to know, I fail as their Abba. I would not be Dad.
A Dad is Omnipotent
Abba – God, our Dad – is all-powerful. For this, if for nothing else, Dads fear Him.
Omnipotence in a Dad is an extension through him of God’s power and authority – and the child should fear his Dad.
It’s basic instinct to do the will of someone we fear. A child, by the sheer size of his Dad, fears him. He fears everything bigger than him. But only a Dad can mete out Justice and Mercy – two of the Twelve Righteous Virtues – and by doing so, as the child gets older, he learns to respect, honor, and revere his Dad as someone who guides him along the right path.
The child learns this because the Dad did not smite him, though he knows as a sinner he could well have deserved it. He realizes that Dad, like God, restrains himself and builds up the child with Justice and Mercy and Discipline guided by both.
Just as God is omnipotent and does not smite us – though admittedly we deserve it! – Dads should be omnipotent for their children without smiting them. Corrective discipline includes not sparing the rod but, as God does with us, using it judiciously and mercifully so as to limit the number of times it will need to be used in the future.
Eventually, a filial fear and awe and reverence of a Dad is what unleashes right and noble children upon society, who have a respect for authority and understanding that they, too, do not know everything.
Children will always rely on an omnipotent Dad if he himself relies on one. By using the authority granted to him by God, a Dad can raise up these children so that when he goes to his grave he can leave the children in the care of his – and their – omnipresent Abba:
If I come across as some child abuser, you are reading this completely wrong. I am painfully and intimately aware of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse a father can mete out on his own child, and that is diametrically opposed to what I am sharing here.
All Loving, All Knowing, All Powerful…All over the place.
Are these Aptitudes impossible?
I think they ARE impossible to DO and BE PERFECTLY. Just as with the Natural Aptitudes he has a Man must strive to know and act upon to his utmost, and just as with the Marriage Aptitudes a Husband has he must strive to know and act upon to his utmost, so must a Dad strive to know the Abba Aptitudes and act upon them to his utmost.
The Dad knows God by fearing Him, and that fear is the beginning of Wisdom – wisdom which tells him how to be to his children as God is to him. Because this goal is unattainable does not diminish its worthiness or the valiance of an effort to attain it. In fact, Wisdom tells us that if it exists in a manner in which we can comprehend it, we can attain it. Whatever that manner is that a Man can comprehend it, he is obligated, if he discerns Marriage and thus being a Dad, to seek it and, by seeking it, perfecting himself as much as possible.
Obviously this implies never reaching perfection – never hitting the mark or reaching the goal.
But there are countless examples in history of Men who were Husbands and Dads – to their biological children or to nations – that did not reach the goal but persisted anyway and reached the level they were called by God to reach. There is one example of a Man, Husband, and Dad who did it all right – someone just as human as I am.
And we can learn from him how to do it, too.
I think I missed something...
No worries. You may have gotten to this page from an outside link, or done what I do a lot and looked for a shortcut or quick fix, or maybe just thought it did not apply to you. Start with “Vocation” then click on “What I think it means to be a Man” (you’ll have to read a few sentences to find that link) and go forward from there. I’ll be here when you catch up!
If you’ve gone that route already, check out the “What if…” section below for some answers to frequently asked questions concerning being a Husband.
This is challenging, but I know I'm supposed to be a Husband and a Dad!
Now for the hard part (Seriously…I did not like coming to this realization!):
To be a ManHusbandDad I have found that we have to be willing to pursue, live, and teach our children these things that, by their nature, we will fail to fulfill completely.
Fortunately, we have a great example from whom we can learn.
Jesus’ Dad on earth: Saint Joseph.
I think that St. Joseph is the example to follow in all things ManHusbandDad because Jesus chose him as His Dad.
While Mary HAD to be immaculate in order to receive the pure God in her womb, Joseph was a Man – complete with faults. It is by his very human nature that we, as a ManHusbandDad, can take comfort that if we live up to our Natural, Marriage, and Abba Aptitudes we will be exactly what our Wife and Children need – because as God gave Mary and Jesus to Joseph, so does He give us our Wife and Children – if we have properly discerned the vocations of Man, Husband, and Dad.
That is why the Natural and Marriage Aptitudes are measured against our personal self – so we know how well qualified we are to be Husbands so we don’t discern something we should not be. And that is why the Abba Aptitudes are the same for all Dads – because we are endowed with them as Dads to be the right Dad for the Children we are given.
Is that heavy stuff or what? I still have a hard time wrapping my head and heart around it, and I contemplate it at least hourly most days. And I don’t like the contemplation, because my sinful nature gives me the proclivity to do what I want, not what GOD wants, even though I know His plan is perfect and He loves me, so His plan is right for me. I wind up saying “Grrr….” a lot.
When that gets overwhelming (well, overbearing, because it is overwhelming every minute), I turn to what I call “The Handbook for Men, Husbands, and Dads,” in which dozens of men and women reveal the guiding principle for those who have discerned the vocation of ManHusbandDad.
Do BE a Dad, we need Wisdom. Let’s get started on that…
…You’ve looked through the Man and Husband sections and they make sense, but this Dad stuff is still a bit heavy, confusing, or even downright anti-everything-you-believe?
Well, there’s nothing wrong with an honest skeptic or someone who wants to know more before making the obligation in the next link. That was me.
Here are some questions below that may ease your mind or make you run away screamin from here as fast as possible. Either way, I think the answers are True…
So are you saying that if I can't have children I can't be a Husband or a Dad?
Many Husbands and Wives find themselves incapable of having children of their own. Anybody who properly discerns the vocation of Husband and Dad and cannot have their own biological children should see the opportunity God has given them as it is.
Seek to be the Dad to children without Dads. There are far too many, and some probably in your own neighborhood. God is providing Dads for those children – He is providing you.
What if I marry a woman who has children?
I think if you have properly discerned being a Husband and a Dad and God has led you to your Wife, then the fact that she has children should not matter. God does not deny that which He has ordained, and if He ordains you to marry her, what’s the big deal?
If she is divorced or abandoned by the father of her children, that man is obviously not qualified to be a Dad and, while they should never have gotten married in the first place had their been proper discernment, there is nothing you can do about that relationship.
Since he is obviously abdicating his responsibility as a Dad and choosing to just be a sperm donor, then you, having properly discerned your vocation, must be the Dad because you have discerned this woman to be your wife. Husband and Dad are inseparable vocations – so the children are your responsibility. I suspect they would have been yours had the former couple NOT become married, if you and she have discerned that you should be Married. God doesn’t do do-overs – we just realize what he was telling us all the time, a little late.
If this is not a responsibility you are willing to take on, then you should not marry this woman. If you have properly discerned the Husband vocation, then you will properly discern the right Wife.
That’s what I think.
I want to adopt kids. Can I be their Dad?
Certainly, as long as you have a Wife. If you have a Wife, you have discerned that you are open to Children.
Whatever the circumstance for their being in a position to be adopted, the children have either lost a father or a Dad. In either case, children always need a Dad. In this instance, that would be you.
We only need to look at Saint Joseph, who obviously adopted Jesus, to know that all children need a Dad!
I'm guessing by all the other homophobic stuff that is probably on this site I can't be a Dad if I'm gay, right?
There is no homophobic material on this site or in the ManHusbandDad philosophy or teachings. There is, however, strict condemnation of the homosexual act.
Unfortunately, because a homosexual man cannot have a wife – and still be honest with himself – there is no scenario under which a homosexual man can be a Dad.
But, if he behaves in a morally upright manner as all unmarried people are expected to behave, there’s nothing that can keep him from being the Cool Uncle!
So to be a good Dad I have to beat my kids?
This is often a sticking point because folks don’t read everything or absorb what is written here about “fear” and “sparing the rod.”
I suggest you read the next section and see what it says about discipline.
There is no room for violence against children in the ManHusbandDad idea.
I screwed up. Is my case hopeless?
I don’t think any case is hopeless. Hope is a Virtue a Man must have to BE a Man…so you gotta start there.
It would be foolish and un-Manly at least for me to ignore those who are along in life on the wrong side of decisions they have already made. It certainly wouldn’t be in line with What Would Dad Do.
Look at it this way: It is never too late to start over.
When you live in a house for ten years and then one day look outside and say, “Wow. A tree would have looked nice there if we had planted it ten years ago,” what you are really saying is that you don’t want to plant the tree now, even though in ten years it will look as nice as it would today if you had planted it ten years ago.
The time to plant the tree is now.
I’m not saying I have all the answers, but maybe you and I can learn together if you contact me. I have Hope for you right now. I’d be glad to give you some!