As I have written often about the responsibility of parents and the consequences of the absence of parents , I found that today was a day that dealt a great deal with aspects of parenthood that are a bit striking and poignant. What I would like to do first is talk a little bit about what father hunger is and why it would matter. As I use the term, it refers to the the the sort of hunger and longing that a child has for a father, especially in the absence of that father. This longing can manifest itself in many forms, and I happen to have seen most of these from a variety of perspectives, and it tends to give me a bit of a heavy heart, reminding me of my own troubled childhood and my own family longings even as it makes my heart mourn for those who are in the same position themselves.
Today I had the chance, as I often do at services and occasionally at other times, of playing with the little children of a friend of mine who are growing up without a father. Although I tend to be rather shy when it comes to children when they are strangers, I am generally fond of the energy and innocence and silliness of youth and the fact that children are among the friendliest of alien species. Of course, if the children are growing up fond of sci-fi or fantasy literature, then that is a reference that they would understand, at least in theory. Being the sort of person who feels sad that the fun and innocence of youth is so often wasted in a world that does not value innocence and tends to prefer to exploit youth than to protect it and encourage it. Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy the presence of children and to brighten their day and also to let go of the heavy burden that one can often face but that fades away a bit in the presence of new life..
As it happened, today I had the chance to talk a fair amount to the father of one of the students in my Sabbath school class. I happen to know the children of the family better than I know him, since I have only seen him a few times since moving to this area. However, from what I found out, the father recently found a job in the area and so he will be staying here. I can tell that he probably has some happy children there. After all, as I have noticed, all of his kids in their own way have some pretty strong father hunger. It is my hope that these young people, who are all good kids in their own way, all are able to appreciate the presence of their father in their lives and find encouragement in it. This world is stressful enough without having to worry about the affirmation of a father. And good kids deserve families that help and encourage them and set them up for success. May we hope that such children can have some good fortune even in a world as broken as our own.
Father hunger can affect a young person in so many ways. Whether it is in people longing for the affirmation and affection of an older man, or looking for some kind of approval and advice, or whether it is in the need we all have to learn from the positive example of others in order to live our lives properly, the role of a father is a worthwhile one. Who is to teach a young man how to behave with honor and respect the women in his life, and who else is to show his daughter that she is a lovely and decent young woman worthy of such honor and respect? The powerful example of a godly man is worth so much more than mere words, and yet where such example is missing there is often such a hole that must be filled that our lives are often dramatically affected by the longings and frustrations we have to deal with. Knowing such yearnings for myself, I have a deep empathy for others who struggle in the same way, in the hope that we may all overcome the brokenness that we have found for ourselves. I hope such prayers will not remain unanswered forever.
 See, for example: