My father taught me a lot in what I wanted for my kids father. Mostly though he taught me what I didn't want. I didn't want someone who was distant like him. Who didn't hug me and tell me he loved me. Who didn't really pay attention to me or know anything about me.
The Proclamation to the Family states that "Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness", echoing President Benson when he said "God established that fathers are to preside in the home. Fathers are to provide love, teach, and direct".
Different fathers have different methods for presiding, loving, teaching and even providing for their families, and the diversity is needed to cater to the differences in children and personalities. But there are universal truths and I found one while reading 'Successful Marriages and Families'. In the text of chapter 13 I read a line that I couldn't wait to read the answer to, the question was, "What is a child's greatest need?" As I read the answer I knew it was true, "The greatest need of any child is security. A sense of security is perhaps the most fundamental of all human needs in a variety of ways, but is it primary and intensive for children".
Security is far more reaching than monsters under a bed. To a child it means, 'You will return from work. We will pray as a family every night. You will care about who my friends are. What matters to me will matter to you, even if it doesn't really matter to you. You will care about me even when I am misbehaving. You will treat my mom with love and respect. You will laugh with me. You will be there'.
So many times in my own life I didn't feel secure. I felt physically secure, but not emotionally. Not at all. I was ill prepared to date because I didn't know how to talk to boys. I didn't know what I should expect form them because I didn't see it emulated. I didn't know that fathers were supposed to have PPI's, FHE's and talk to their kids face to face, eye to eye. I didn't know a father could take you to ice cream just because he wanted to and ask you about all your hopes and dreams.
When I met my husband I knew right away he was a catch. He treated his mother with love and respect. He played with his nieces and nephews. We had conversations, real conversations. I was communicating with a man for the first time in my life other than getting yelled at to clean my room! It was amazing. Most importantly he was a righteous man, one who honored his priesthood and I knew would not only take care of our future family, but make us all feel safe and secure.
The text states, "Fathers have the ability, for good or ill, to exercise great power and influence in the lives of their children and families. They bless only by the exercise of power in righteousness. This is especially true of the exercise of priesthood power. To be a holy figure in the life of a child, in the life of a family, requires an association with powers that exist beyond our own mortal abilities".
I am thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that I learned how important the Priesthood was. How important serving a mission was. How important it was for a man to love, respect, honor and take care of his wife and family. I love my husband so much and feel so grateful to be married to such a wonderful man. Thankful too that I have the opportunity to parent with him and that we can help each other in our journey through parenthood. He is not perfect, and neither am I, so communication is key for us to discuss things we want to do while parenting our children.
But all those things I wanted as a kid he does for my own kids, so I feel very, very blessed.