What is your child’s favorite toy?
Randall Murphree
Randall Murphree
AFA Journal editor

June 2008 – At the Doug Gabriel Show in Branson last Christmas, Gabriel prefaced one of his songs with a favorite Christmas memory. One Christmas when his three children were young, the family had spent the morning exclaiming over dreams fulfilled, playing with new toys and just enjoying each other’s company.

When the newness of the toys wore off, Gabriel began wrestling and roughhousing with one of his sons in the living room floor. As the young lad won the battle, conquered the foe and sat boldly atop his dad’s prone body, he suddenly giggled and said, “You know what, Daddy? You’re my favorite toy!”

I think fathers far too often underestimate the significance of their role in the lives of their children. The experts (feminists and politically correct pundits aside) all affirm that a father – or at least a positive male role model – is critical if boys and girls are to grow up with a balanced view of life.

Last June in this column, I commended to you a book titled Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, M.D. Regnery Publishers released Meeker’s new book, Boys Should Be Boys last month and it, too, is noteworthy for all parents.

In Chapter 1, “Boyhood Under Siege,” Meeker cites all sorts of scary statistics, e.g.:

42% of white boys, 57 % of Hispanic boys and 74% of black boys have been sexually active before graduating from high school.
16% have had intercourse with more than four partners.
27% of boys admit to heavy drinking (more than five drinks in a row).
29% of boys tried alcohol before age 13.

Such numbers should startle us, awaken us from apathy. They should motivate every dad to take a look at what kind of role model he is for his children

Chapter 8, “The Difference a Dad Makes,” gets to the core of the conundrum. Meeker states plainly and succinctly that it takes a man to raise a man. Again, she peppers early paragraphs with data that should make us uncomfortable.

She says a father gives a son security by being authority and protector. More specifically, a son needs three gifts from his dad – his blessing, his love and the way to self-control. 

Meeker is quick to acknowledge that for some sons, the father is simply not going to be in the picture. In those cases, she says the mother and other adults in the boy’s life need to help him find a role model – e.g., a stepfather, uncle, coach or pastor. 

One other emphasis in Chapter 8 is validation of the principle that children spell love “T-I-M-E.” Love is not always a magical or emotional feeling. Sometimes it’s hard work. Sometimes it means sticking it out through tough times. But sometimes, it’s as simple as spending time with your child. The bottom line: Fathers (or their substitutes) are critical in the lives of sons. 

Doug Gabriel, seven-time Branson, Missouri, male vocalist of the year, never lost sight of his role as father to his children. During this Father’s Day season, I challenge dads everywhere to ask the question: “What is my child’s favorite toy?”  undefined