Fathers are the rudder of the family. They are an integral part of setting the direction and goals of a family unit and keeping the family on course.

Do you agree with that?

We spend a lot of time talking about moms—obviously—but what about dads? Sometimes, it seems the media makes dads out to be disposable and even stupid.

But they are not. They are vital, important, wonderful, and a blessing!

Last week I went on a 3-day field trip with 200+ fourth graders and 60 adults, most of whom were women. As you can imagine, some of the kids acted like wild monkeys. If there had been branches, they would have been swinging from them. In fact … there were some incidents with trees, but I won’t go into that one here.

Anyway, watching the boys’ insatiable need to move, climb, jump, explore, lead the pack, and compete was a science lesson in itself. There were times I wished for a dart gun and some tranquilizer…

Some of the boys who had dads on the trip, though, acted different. I observed them walking by their dads and respecting the rules. They looked to their dads for direction, and went where they were told. They kept the goal of learning in mind.

There were other boys, though, whose dads or male chaperones were checked out mentally. Those boys ran wild, and I do mean WILD. Because the authority wasn’t willing to interact, the kids weren’t willing to abide by any rules. They had no rudder, no direction, and no clear goals.*

Since most of you have not had the … pleasure of attending such an event, I think also of eldest’s first-grade class party. Again, the kids were wound up and running like monkeys around the room. I tried multiple times to get their attention to no avail.

In stepped one of the fathers. He didn’t even have to raise his voice too loud. “All right. Sit down and listen.” That’s all he said, and those kids jumped back into their seats and looked at him for the next set of directions. As long as he was in the lead, things went smoothly.

Thinking of my own family, things go smoothest when we let Dad take the lead. When I get in his way confusion results.**

Sadly, so many families struggle with this, be it from checked-out dads, anger issues, overbearing moms, single parent situations, or other life scenarios. So, next time you see a dad staying in the mix and being a loving family rudder/cruise captain, give him a big thanks.

Thanks to my hubby for keeping us on course!

* Please note: I made many generalizations here. Not every boy was a behavior issue all or part of the time (regardless of their chaperone), nor were the girls all perfect angels! This was just an overall observation. My aim is to compliment men on their leadership, not tear anyone down.

**This does not mean I have no say in the family. I refer to the times I step all over my husband and his ideas to get my way.