Fb Tw Pin
Email_logo_new Print_logo_new


Anthony Sweat

June 20, 2012

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters,” the saying goes, but it could easily and accurately be changed to, “One fathering is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” Often on Father’s Day we reminisce about what our dads have done for us. But from a father’s perspective, I want to discuss what being a dad does to us. Let me share two personal stories to illustrate the profound effect of fatherhood.

Fatherhood and Faithfulness
Merely the thought of being a dad has influenced me since my full-time mission. Like many missionaries, I struggled early on and I wasn’t sure if I could do it. The reality of two years in the mountains and jungles of Bolivia with an unknown companion and an unwanted tapeworm named El Flaquito started to weigh me down and make me vacillate in my commitment to serve. When I expressed my uncertainty in a letter to my family, my mom wrote back and said something that recommitted me to the faithful completion of my mission. She didn’t mention Jesus, the Book of Mormon, or the Prophet. She simply mentioned my children. My future children. In a letter I still have today, she wrote about my premortal children watching me from heaven saying, “C’mon dad, you can do it!” For some inexplicable reason, the thought of my future kids rooting for me to serve faithfully gave me the motivation I needed.

Now that six of those children have jumped on the slippery slide from premortality and landed in my mortal lap they still motivate me to do right. Sometimes, thinking of this blessing, I’m reminded of the father who overheard his son pray, “Dear God, make me the kind of man my daddy is.” Later that night, the Father prayed, “Dear God, make me the kind of man my son wants me to be.” For me and many dads the world over, fatherhood facilitates faithfulness.

Fatherhood and Selflessness
One day on a drive in our marshmallow minivan, when my wife was expecting our fourth child, we had a disagreement. She was having a pregnancy moment (being a little emotional and sensitive) and I was having a manly moment (not being emotional or sensitive enough). As my wife cried in the passenger seat and I insensitively drove on, focusing on the road instead of her, a little lispy four-year-old voice from the back seat cried out in rebuke, “Have you forgot? She’s your wife! You should love her! Be nice to her!” I looked back in surprise at my daughter. Between blonde pig tails and a snotty nose, I saw seriousness in her blue eyes and heard powerful truth in her simple words. Waking from my thoughtless stupor, I turned to my wife and apologized, and thanked God for the thoughtfulness of my daughter.

There is something about being a dad that helps men to love more deeply, serve more selflessly, and sacrifice more willingly than we might otherwise have. The diapers and dinosaurs, the baths and the Barbies, the chauffeuring and the cheering; all of it helps us turn outward instead of inward, and thus be better men. I know of no better cure for the sickness of selfishness than the fatigue of fatherhood.

William Wordsworth wrote, “Father!—to God Himself we cannot give a holier name.” Reverently, I wonder if part of God’s goodness comes as a result of His sacred role as “Father.” I know it has for me.