Fathers Failing the Animals’ Parenting Scale

posted by Jael Ever @ 11:47 AM
June 20, 2011

Human beings, most of whom consider themselves to be vastly superior to animals, could learn a lot about fatherhood from the animal kingdom.  As they celebrate Father’s Day this year, men fathering children may be able to get some guidance on fatherhood from non-human animals.  While the divorce rate in this country has been going down, so has the rate of marriage.  At the same time, the rates of unwed mothers and absent fathers are skyrocketing.  Thus, the presence of fathers in the nation’s social structure is sadly becoming a vanishing influence in public life.  But not in the animal world.  Regardless of the species, relationships between males and females have remained the same for centuries; and, in most cases, fathers have integral roles in the lives of their off-spring.

 For instance, animal blogs––such as Discovery News, Animal Planet and others––say that, after laying her eggs, the female emperor penguin rolls it onto the dad’s feet and then leaves to recuperate.  Living only in the Antarctic, father emperors stand in one place protecting those eggs in the cold and snow, sometimes up to 100 days until they hatch.  These fathers don’t move.  They don’t even eat until those chicks are born.  Then, even after moms returns, dads help to care for their babies, often feeding them from a gland on the father’s esophagus.

 While the male rheas may have more than one mate, he incubates and raises all of his brood, no matter how many he has to raise at one time.  And this flightless bird “mothers” his chicks for some six months until they are grown enough to go out on their own.  Another example: exclusively living in India, golden jackals pair with one mate for life.  They scavenge food and do everything together.  And, while the mother rests up from her pregnancy, the father feeds his infant children from his own regurgitated food.  Likewise, the male red fox plays with his pups and brings them food for some three months.  Then he seems to put them out on their on to hunt for food, when in reality, he has hidden food around the camp for them to find, in that way training them to become great hunters.

 The list of successful fathering in the animal kingdom goes on and on.  How sad that the opposite can be said for the great United States which now experiences such horrific societal breakdown.  In his blog, “Absent Fathers and the Awful Statistics,” Rich Andrews presents facts about the malignant affects on boys and girls forced to grow up without their fathers.  In discussing the ministry of John the Baptist, Luke’s Gospel says, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, . . .” (1: 17a).  Considering examples of fatherhood from non-human animals, surely it is urgently necessary for this John the Baptist teaching about fatherhood to be included in all Christian messages.  Or else some men, including “a few” professing Christians, must admit that they fall lower than animals on the parenting scale!

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