By: Curt Williams, Founder & Executive Director
The word impression is defined as “a strong effect produced on the intellect, feelings, conscience, etc.; a mark or indentation produced by pressure.”
It is undeniable and cannot be negated… a father makes an impression on his children, and that impression will be carried for many years. Even if a father abandons his child before their birth, or is taken by death, the impression is indelible. It is not only DNA. It is not only physical traits. It is not only mannerisms that are passed down. It is also the spiritual impressions that are guaranteed, either in their presence or in their absence.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fatherhood. In the last few weeks I have witnessed the steady physical decline of my 90-year-old father. He and I had some early years that were quite embattled, but over the last 40 years we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship, and on July 17th we said our last goodbye. It was my honor to share at his COVID-stunted graveside memorial service, where we followed his last directive, which was to keep it brief.
His passing, which to me was just a long-awaited graduation, has given me a fresh perspective on fatherhood, a position that I have studied and written about for over three decades.
It is my deepest honor to be the dad of seven unique and wonderful children, with five of the seven now legal adults. I have also had the honor to step into a father role for over 3,000 troubled boys; each of them taught me a little more about fatherhood, as they displayed the attributes and the scars from their own father’s goodness, neglect or crimes.
There is a saying, “We are our fathers’ boys,” which puts into a synopsis the belief that without real, intentional, and consistent effort, we will most likely repeat our father’s mistakes. The Bible even tells us that the sins of the father are naturally passed down from generation to generation. I have watched this play out with boys raised by serial adulterers who themselves get married and cheat. I have seen boys abandoned by their fathers who grow up to later abandon their own kids. Sadly, I have had boys who never met their father, as he was in prison, and these boys later committed the same crime that stole their father from them.
It would be wrong of me to lionize my own father, as he was not perfect. He had his flaws and his foibles and he was humble enough to admit to them. What is also true is that he had many wonderful characteristics, practices and traits. Where it grows frustrating is in the fact that I have had to work to gain his positive traits, yet I gained all of his negative attributes with no effort whatsoever. Such is the nature of man and such is the nature of the impression of fathers.
Here at Youth-Reach, we deal with the “daddy issue” each and every day. We are confronted with the overwhelming influence of the fathers, represented by their sons whom we are now caring for. It is on occasion that we find ourselves working with a troubled boy who indeed has a good, present and healthy birth father in the home, but these opportunities are rare. There are those in our society who are fighting to marginalize and decrease the role of men in the home and to neuter the influence of the position of father. Nothing could be more damaging. Nearly every inmate in our nation’s jails suffered without a strong and involved father.
I have finally completed my first book, and it is now off to an editor. The book explores parenthood and the weakening of not just fathers, but of parenting in general. Without an intentional return to a societal structure that focuses on strong and intact families, our nation’s already fast decline will only accelerate. Though this might be the plight of the world, those who identify with Christ need to actively disconnect from the world’s way of raising kids and counter the culture. This book is an exploration of parenting from an old-school viewpoint, when strong, resilient, adaptable kids were produced by parents determined to work themselves out of a job.
We are very grateful to those of you who sacrifice to financially support our work. We are seeking each day to turn every nickel you provide into a dime. Your prayers are also needed. We have often said that prayer is the fuel of miracles, and we need a lot of miracles. Thank you for your support.