Dads provide heroism in a tangible way for their sons. But that is not all they offer their boys.
The strong one. There is tremendous comfort for the boy who has a strong father. He knows that he is safe no matter what. He learns as he grows that this is not as true as he thought, but he still grasps an important truth: he has a protector. He thus learns security. He learns trust. He can sleep well at night. His father is attuned to his welfare, and enters the room at night when it seems certain that this is the night that the monsters will prevail. When there is an unexplainable noise downstairs at night, dad is off the couch. The boy watches this, and learns that his father is strong.
There is much good in this. As opposed to the boy without a father, the boy learns that he is not alone in the world. There is one by his side who is powerful and can troubleshoot the difficulties of life. Strength, after all, is not limited to physical strength, but emotional. Many, many strong women exist, but the first picture of strength a boy is to receive is that from his father. When times grow hard for the family, or the church, the boy watches his father. He sees his father react with character and fortitude, and thus subconsciously develops similar instincts. Mom is strong too, but she cries. Dad does not cry. He is not worried. He will stand strong, and good will prevail.
The boy with a father learns, then, to believe in strength and security. The boy without a father, however, struggles to learn this lesson. In fact, he is not afforded the pleasure of seeing another work out the virtue of strength. He is forced to forge this quality for himself, and from a premature age. When taunted in the playground, there is no resort other than his own strength. There is no father to turn to and seek help from. He must grit his teeth and find his own force. He is weak, and vulnerable, and if he survives will likely grow hard and angry. Fathers provide a security and comfort no fist can give. In doing so, they represent, however imperfectly, the security and strength that truly never fail: the sovereign power of God. Those without a father miss the opportunity to learn experientially the necessity of relying upon God’s mighty hand to protect and guide. They are not introduced to this figure from birth, as Providence intended them to be.