Hey dads! Can you hear us? We know sometimes it’s hard to. As a church community, as a community of educators, and in communities far beyond, there are still some cultural hurdles to overcome to be more inclusive of men and acknowledge their role as nurturers and caregivers.
According to the institute for Family Studies, our society’s understanding of paternal involvement is obscured and even perpetuated by science and research. Many research agendas surrounding dads’ influence on their children are spurred by false or antiquated assumptions about a father’s role.
June is the month we celebrate dads, so it’s the perfect time to start moving the needle! This month, we’re spending some extra time focusing on how the church can support dads, dads-to-be, and other father figures.
To start, here are five easy ways your church can support dads—whether they have little ones in the nursery, kiddos in Sunday school, or teenagers in youth group.
Five ways church ministries can support dads
Use affirming language
Abandon phrases like “daddy duty,” and “babysitting” when you see a father checking a child in to a church ministry class. These phrases make assumptions about a father’s parenting role and can minimize the impact he has on his children’s lives. Instead, use the same language you would use when talking to a mother.
Split the focus
When both parents are present to pick up or drop off a child, split your focus equally between the mom and dad. Findings from one study revealed that dads often feel shut out of caring for their own child. Intentionally look them both in the eyes as you ask about any special instructions or report information from the day. That is, if they’re both ready and able to listen! If a mom is busy gathering her kids, talk to her husband. Trust that he is informed and equipped to handle the information. And vice-versa.
Don’t make assumptions
Always ask who will be picking the child up. Though this question is likely a regular part of your church’s child protection protocol, it also infers that you recognize equal parental involvement (which will be appreciated by both parents!).
Show your gratitude
When a dad drops off or picks up a child, tell him how much you appreciate what he does! Dropping a kid off at your church ministry may seem like a given to involved dads and moms. But it’s always nice to be acknowledged for going the extra mile. On Father’s Day and every day, dads will appreciate the recognition of the hard work of parenting.
Treat them like a parent
Ultimately, you can support dads in your church ministries through simple practices of equality. Treat dads the same way as you’d treat moms! This may mean letting go of preconceived notions. Acknowledge the increasingly equal parenting role among moms and dads. In doing so, you’ll become a partner to these fathers as they continue to do the important work of raising up the next generation.
Over the next few weeks, stop back on the Sparkhouse Blog to see what’s next in our Father's Day Dialogues series! We’ll be sharing more perspectives about dads, their role in church ministry, and how that impacts your role as church ministry leaders.