Several months ago I talked to a man who described one of the most painful experiences of his life.

When he was 17 years old, he was one of the stars on his high school football team, but his father, a very successful man in the city, was always too busy to come see him play. Quickly, the final game of the season came around, which happened to be the state championship, and the boy was just desperate to have his dad there.

The night of the big game, the boy was on the field warming up when he happened to see his father arrive with two other men, each wearing dress suits. They stood talking among themselves for a moment or two, and then he saw them leave.

The man who told me this story is now 58 years of age, and yet he stood there with tears streaming down his cheeks as he relived that moment so long ago. It's been 40 years since that night, and yet the rejection and disappointment are as vivid as ever.

I was struck again by the awesome influence a father has in the lives of his children. When he's uninvolved, when he doesn't love or care for them, it creates a vacuum that reverberates for decades.

That man's father died not long ago, and he stood by his dad's body in the mortuary and said, "Dad, I never really knew you. We could have shared so much love together, but you never had time for me."

With Focus on the Family, this is Dr. James Dobson.

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