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Graham Williamson reflects on Father's Day. Graphic by Rohan Salmond.
Graham Williamson reflects on Father's Day. Graphic: Rohan Salmond

Fathers on the front-line

Fatherhood is an increasingly complex vocation, and all Christian fathers have a responsibility to help their children in their Christian life, writes Graham Williamson.

It never ceases to amaze me: the number of areas in which Christian life is such an obvious answer to many of the social ills that are confronting society. Never has it been so true that the Bible is the owner’s manual for life.

While fatherhood does not come with an instruction manual, we do have some guidance. According to the Bible a diligent father is a crucial component of the family. In my years as a foster father I have found Paul’s advice in 1 Thessalonians 2:12 to be a helpful guide. Paul gives us three characteristics of a father’s relationship with his children:


Probably the most important influence that many children miss out on is encouragement. Kids today have been told what they are not good at and have never received encouragement to go on to bigger and better things.


It’s always been important to comfort our children; dealing with insecurity and anxiety is part of growing up. Today it’s probably more important than ever because of the way children are thrust into the adult world at a younger age.

3Urging to live “worthy” lives

There’s something more important than going to uni and getting the best job. Christian instruction for children, particularly as they complete their secondary education, is vital. It’s the time at which they are looking for answers and looking for a reason for the world and a purpose in their lives.

I remember Jeremy, he came to us when he was 14. He’d been out of school for six months, expelled for substance abuse. We visited a number of schools until we found one that would work with him to overcome the obstacles he faced. He went on to complete an honours degree in computer science at Griffith University.

Fatherhood is an increasingly complex vocation. Many factors influence how we as fathers interact with our children. Just keeping up with technology is one area—if our children sense we are technological luddites we put an impediment in our relationship. Another is the feeling of inadequacy that most children experience in high school. It seems our schools are good at pointing out student deficiencies rather than emphasising their capabilities. Yet another is our child’s image of self-worth; someone else is smarter, better looking or has more friends. We must help our children keep these issues in perspective.

For all of us, there is no greater calling than to be found worthy of our Christian life; for fathers, there is no greater calling than helping our children realise that.

Graham and his wife Lorna have been fostering children for 30 years.

Father’s Day is Sunday 6 September.

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