"If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."1
Ron Farmer of the University of New South Wales (Australia) Psychology Department said, "Any man seeking too strenuously for recognition in his early adult life was likely to find that neglect of his family unit during that time would lead to an alienation from his wife and children at the time he most needed their affection and understanding."
As fathers we know we are to provide for our family's physical needs. But provision goes far beyond this. We are to model Christian fatherhood and provide for our family's spiritual needs as well. Equally important is to meet emotional needs, the absence of which is a major cause of many emotional ills and marriage breakdowns.
As fathers we need to be emotionally present and connected to our wives and children. However, if we're not connected to our own emotions and inner self, we cannot be emotionally connected to or intimate with our family. Of all the people I've worked with in recovery groups over the years who are struggling emotionally and/or are divorced, a large percentage of them say that their father was never there for them emotionally when they were growing up. They felt he was distant and lived in his own private world. They never really knew him for who he really was. In God's design it's not only mothers who are needed. Fathers play a vital role in the emotional, spiritual and sexual development of their children. When fathers don't meet their children's needs, their children are programmed for problems as adults—especially in the areas of emotional wellbeing, sexual identity, and interpersonal relationships.
Furthermore, as adults, many of these "emotionally undernourished children" project their feelings towards their earthly father onto God, the Heavenly Father, and feel that he, too, is distant, cold and not there for them. When we are not emotionally present and involved with our children we can, without realizing it, drive wedges between our precious children and God.
Being present for and emotionally involved with our spouse and our children physically, emotionally, and spiritually is critical for, and a vital part of, providing for our children's needs and the future of their children.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me as a father (parent) to be available today and every day to my spouse and to my children, and to give them my presence and undivided attention, so they will know without a shadow of a doubt that I love them. In so doing may they feel my love and affirmation at the very core of their being. And may they also know and feel your love and affirmation at the core of their being. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV).