No one loves my children more than I do. I would give my life for them. I am committed to their well-being and will fight for them, whatever life may bring.
Yet, as much as I love them, I’m just not my wife. Mothers have a special bond with their children that is unique and irreplaceable. I can see it clearly when I look at my children interacting with my wife. And, of course, I experienced the same thing with my mother.
I can do a lot of things for my children, but I cannot replace my wife.
It is not that my wife loves them more than I do (I already said no one loves them more than me), the undeniable reality is that both my wife and I are providing a distinct love that each of us could not give if the other were absent.
No matter how much my wife knows my 2-year-old boy, she does not know what it is like to be a boy. Boys and girls are so different that there will always be that impenetrable barrier for her. The same can be said of me and my daughters. I can help my daughters with a lot of things. I’m older and have gained a myriad of experiences. But I do not know what it is like to be a girl.
Nevertheless, this bond is much stronger than that simple observation. It is hard to explain, but I have such a special relationship with my daughters that I sincerely hurt for any girl that must grow up without a father to love them in this way.
It is not that they can’t overcome that. Many have. But there is such richness in that father-daughter relationship that I wish all little girls could have that foundation as they set out to take on this complicated world.
I can clearly see and feel how much my daughter leans on me for security. She feels secure in my arms. And I make sure she knows that I’m always there for her no matter where I am.
It is not the same for my wife to do that. There is a clear difference between when my wife gives her assurance and when I give it. It is different when I say, “You are the most beautiful princess in the world” and when she says it. There just is.
I shouldn’t be that surprise because, of course, I experienced the same thing in my childhood. There is no more gratifying moment in a boy’s life than that moment when you get to perform in one way or another in front of your dad and you hear him say, “I’m proud of you son.” Not that when moms say it, it is not important, but it is just very different.
I’ve walked alongside several great men who have struggled through the void of never hearing those words from their fathers. Not to mention the deep void the loss of my best friend’s mother at a very young age left him with. These voids are real and present constantly. The scars are clearly seen.
The same is true of both our roles in our marriage. I see how my children absorb every little interaction between me and my wife. I can see how important it is for them to know that I do love their mother and for them to see the way in which I love her. They pick up on everything. It is simply amazing how they can sense any tension between us, even at an incredibly young age.
Anyone with children can testify how children learn how to express their feelings, handle conflict, interact with others, and simply how to be a boy or a girl from that miracle called marriage.
I know that today’s culture would have us believe that mothers and fathers do not matter. All children need is “love” and nothing else. They tell us that it makes no difference if they are “loved” by a mom and a dad, a single mom, a single dad, two moms, two dads, etc. All we need is love.
I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it.
This amorphous “love” they refer to has no real practical application. To accept their claim, we would have to deny what we know to be true in our lives: that the love of a mother and a father were both of immense importance for us; and that the lack of one or the other brings with it incredible challenges.
All the research concluding that children do best in a home where there is a mother and a father who love each other and their children unconditionally only confirms what we know to be true.
Fathers matter. Mothers matter. God’s model for marriage is best.
[Click here for the companion piece I'm Not My Husband]