My childhood was incredible. I remember bonfires, camping, forts in the woods, street hockey, baseball, and trips across the country with my family. The world was a big place, but it wasn’t a scary place. It’s only been since my first son was born that I’ve understood why my early years were so good.
I have a great dad. Growing up, he’d have me and my siblings help him build things in the garage or the house, and show us how to work on the car. He’d play games with us, read to us, and bring us absolutely everywhere. He’d deal with the evil out in the world so our home could be safe for us.
My own children are still very young, and the world has grown darker in many ways than it was when I was a child, but the role of a father has not changed. People write entire books on the subject and this short post certainly won’t do it justice, but I think one of the most important things a father does for his children is let them have a sense of wonder. He doesn’t give them this sense; God has built it into the heart of every child. But if a child doesn’t have the protection of a father and loses his innocence, he loses that wonder, too.
Bad people often say “children are resilient” to avoid taking responsibility for the horrors their worldview unleashes on children. Children aren’t as resilient as we want them to be; when they don’t have the chance to truly understand how wonderful God’s creation is, they grow up broken. There’s a reason fatherlessness is so closely associated with so many horrible things in life. God, being a gracious Father Himself, can protect children who don’t have their fathers around, but more often than not, the kids suffer for what they don’t have. And since this loss of wonder isn’t quantifiable data, our atheistic Expert Class doesn’t even begin to understand it. This is probably why they are so often the ones saying “children are resilient”. That, and they hate children.
The difficulty for a father is that he must carry the weight of the world on his shoulders while his children play at his feet without knowing the danger just over their heads. It’s too easy to give them glimpses of that burden they shouldn’t see before they are ready. That’s my own challenge; I often bring the frustrations that come with dealing with an evil world home with me and it takes a lot of work to stop myself. It isn’t that my children will never grow up to carry on the fight someday; they certainly will and that’s part of my job, too. But there’s a time for it.
For now, they play. They know enough, just as I knew enough when I was their age. Just enough to love God and to live in wonder and awe at the world. Enough to be children, which is all they need right now.