Fathers, wake up!

Fathers wake upWhat is the role of fathers for children’s faith? Incredibly important!

Just one of surveys, which confirms what God in His wisdom been telling us all the time. Read full article here.

In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey which the researchers for our masters in Europe were happy to record. The question was to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation and, if so, what, if any, were the critical factors. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this. It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from the Church of the children.

If both father and mother attend regularly, the figures revealed, then 33 per cent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers with a further 41 per cent attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. If a father is irregular and mother regular then only three per cent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, though a further 59 per cent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight per cent will be lost.

If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 per cent of children will become regular worshipers, and 37 per cent will attend sporadically. Over 60 per cent of the children will be lost completely to the Church.

Mummies and daddies

Let us look at the figures the other way round. What happens if the father is regular but mother irregular or non-practicing. Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 per cent to 38 per cent and 44 per cent respectively; as if loyalty to father’s commitment grows in proportion to mother’s laxity, indifference or hostility. Before mothers despair, there is some consolation for faithful mums. Where mother is less regular than father but attends occasionally her presence ensures that, overall, only a quarter of her children will never attend at all.

Even when the father is an irregular attender there are some extraordinary figures. An irregular father and a non-practicing mother will yield 25 per cent of their children as regular attenders in their future life and a further 23 per cent as irregulars. This is 12 times the congregational yield where the roles are reversed!

Where neither parent practices, to nobody’s very great surprise, only four per cent of children will become regular attenders and a further fifteen per cent irregulars. 80 per cent will be lost to the faith

While Mother’s regularity, on its own, has scarcely any long-term effect on children’s regularity (except in some circumstances outlined above, a marginally negative one), it does have a positive effect on preventing children from drifting away entirely. Faithful mothers produce irregular attenders rather than regular. Their absence transfers the irregulars into the non-attending sector. But even the beneficial influence really works only in complementarity to the practice of the father.

Shocking results?

In short if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshiper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers. If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally. A non-practicing mother (with a regular father) will see a minimum of two thirds of her children ending up at church. A non-practicing father (faithful mother) will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure will rise to 80 per cent!

The results are shocking but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father’s influence, from the determination of gender by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society.

A mother’s role will always remain primary in terms of intimacy, care and nurture. (The toughest man may well sport a tattoo dedicated to the love of his mother, without the slightest embarrassment or sentimentality). No father can replace that relationship. But it is equally true that when a child begins to move into that period of differentiation from home and engagement with the world ‘out there’, he (and she) looks increasingly to the father for that role model. Where the father is indifferent, inadequate or just plain absent that task is much harder and the consequences more profound. Where adults have witnessed, in their own childhood, that Church, for example, is a ‘women and children’ the thing, they will respond accordingly. Curiously, both adult women as well as men will conclude subconsciously that Dad’s absence indicates it is not really a ‘grown-up’ activity. In terms of commitment a mother’s role may be encouraging and confirmatory but it is not primary to her adult offsprings’ decision. Mothers’ choices have dramatically less effect than their fathers’; and, without him, she has little sway over the primary lifestyle choices of her offspring in their religious observances. Her major influence is not on regular attendance at all but on keeping her irregular children from lapsing altogether. This is, needless to say, a vital work but, even then, without the input of the father (regular or irregular) the proportion of the regulars to lapsed goes from 60/40 to 40/60.

These conclusions may not be comfortable, they may not be ‘fair’ but, if these figures are correct and typical, we have to address the facts as they are not how our political prejudice would prefer them to be.

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