404 Daddy Issues: Nature, Nurture and Identity

Daddy Issues: Nature, Nurture and Identity

Are we shaped by nature or nurture?

Rather than the somewhat naive either or debate, I believe both play a vital role in shaping who we are. And more than anyone else, fathers are the predominate influence in determining our identity.


My parents divorced when I was very young so I didn’t spend much time with my biological father. My mom remarried a few years later and so my step-father raised me until I became a man.

My step-father was a military man and valued discipline, responsibility, honor and hard work. He raised me with those values and to this day they have stayed with me. These qualities were instilled in me through the nurture of my step-father and became a part of my character.

On the other hand, many aspects of my personality came directly from nature. I’ve always been a goof ball and I love to make people laugh. I remember while growing up, once my mom said to me: “Your father and I divorced and I still live with him!”

She would tell me how much of his personality I acquired. His humor, his passion for knowledge and learning and his charm are all qualities I inherited, even when he wasn’t around.

The Nurture of A Father

As I reflected on the nurture aspect, I thought about what a father intentionally gives to his children. These are the aspects of identity that come from the relationship and environment created by a father.

While these aren’t exhaustive, here are 3 key aspects of identity provided by a father:

1. What a man looks like

We get our first and most influential concept of manhood from our father. The example we see in our home determines what we believe men are like.

If our father is the outdoors type, we may grow up believing that a man knows how to hunt, fish, hike and start fires without matches. If our father is a business man, we may grow up believing that a man owns his own business, works long hours and strives to be successful.

Fathers teach their sons how to be men and teach their daughters what to look for in a man.

2. What a husband looks like

There is no clearer picture of what marriage looks like than what we see in our own home. Fathers set the tone in the home. Our views on marriage are shaped predominantly by the type of husband our father is to our mothers.

I know many people that swear they will never be married and without fail, it can be traced back to something that was missing from their father. When a father doesn’t provide that provision and protection in the home, a child’s view of marriage and what a husband looks like is far from reassuring.

A father teaches a son how to treat a woman and teaches a daughter how to expect to be treated.

3. What value looks like

Value is by far the most critical aspect of our identity that comes from our father. Our fathers have the most access into this part of our heart. What our father says about us determines our identity.

The words of a father can cripple or heal. Our value and worth comes primarily by what we perceive our father thinks about us. Even if our father loves and values us, if it is not clearly communicated, we can still perceive something completely different.

Our perception determines our truth. A father’s estimation of his child and how he communicates it will establish the value of a child.

How our father sees us determines how we see ourself. How we see ourself determines our identity.

The Nature of Our Father

I believe there are generational blessings and curses that are passed down to us. There are diseases and sickness for which we are predisposed. My dad has high cholesterol and diabetes runs in my family. I’m susceptible to both. Others have healthy genes and are predisposed to full heads of hair, minimal wrinkles and great body structure.

What is beautiful is that in Christ, we see the reality of how nature determines our identity. Regardless of our nature or nurture, something supernatural happens when we come into covenant with Jesus.

We may have earthly fathers that fell short but if we look back to the beginning of our bloodline, we can see where we really come from. There’s a great verse in Ephesians that says “I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:14-15).

Every family in heaven and earth came from God. He is the heavenly and transcendent father. Just as we receive identity from our earthly father, even more so we receive our identity from our Heavenly Father.

The apostle Peter talks about us becoming partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This isn’t just lofty talk that we can gloss over. This is our hope!

Regardless of what we’ve experienced in our family, we can take on the identity of the One who is the perfect Man, the perfect Husband and the One that has the authority to give us our true value.

We’re shaped both by the divine nature we’ve been given and we’re nurtured by God who longs to Father us.

What do you think it means to be a partaker of the divine nature?



  1. Nurturing is the important part of growing up. Whatever I am right now based on how a father nurtured me. I am happy that I got a strong personality from my father.
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  2. Well, regarding on my attitudes and beliefs, I could say that I got it from my father. My father has a strong personality and I am lucky to get this personality from him. My mother always tell me that we have the same attitudes of my father.
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  3. In fact, the personality, the attitudes and the achievements of a person are depends on how a father or a mother nurture their son.
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  4. This is great Tony! Similar to you, I grew up without my natural father, and yet I inherited many of his good and bad qualities. His love of reading, travel and adventure. But when I look at my mother who raised me, I see much more of her in me- her patience, perserverence, and positive attitude- and I’m so glad she’s been the primary influence in my life. Now as a follower of Christ, I am striving to look most like my father in heaven. I am so encouraged to be reminded that I am ultimately created in his image. Thanks for this powerful reminder Tony!

    • I can’t tell you how therapeutic it’s been for me to write this all out. As I study the word and what I’ve experienced, I see more and more how I need to get my identity from God. He’s really the only one whose opinion matters and has authority to give me my value.

      Thanks for reading, Carrie.

  5. I love earthly dad although I didn’t really much time with him and he really didn’t teach me a lot. Everything I’ve learned about being a father, husband, and dad has all been from relationship with God my father and his son Jesus Christ.
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  6. Tony,

    This is the best of the father series for sure! You made a great point about the “nature” that you got from him. The story you told about your mother still living with him brings clarity on that. Being now grafted in to the family of Christ is only possible if we have been made into that exact image. As a result of the accomplishment of Jesus, we can now “partake” in what has ALREADY been given to us. The nature of the Father is now the nature we “own”, and live from rather than what we aspire to represent. Thank the Father forever for making that possible by his holy spirit.

    Those are my thoughts. Love your writing broski!


    • That’s a key distinction. Too many of us live FOR the inheritance as opposed to living FROM what’s already been bought and paid for. I know I’m still learning to walk out that revelation in my own life.

  7. I love that “every family in heaven and on earth is named” from the Heavenly Father. I have a good earthly father, but am so glad that God the Father is perfect in both nurture and nature.
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  8. Hey bro, great article!

    You spoke of generational blessings and curses…I’ve never done a lot of in depth study on this topic. I’ve heard people talking of blessings and curses being passed through families from generation to generation…but I tend to struggle with understanding the concept, I guess.

    I mean, how do you define a curse? Is it to do with your health or the way you live. I mean, you know me bro and you know my story…would you say I’ve lived through the struggles of a generational curse?

    I can tell you many in my family on both sides have struggled through crazy situations…but haven’t all of us in this world? I dunno, I find myself very interested in trying to understand how all this works…

    I would love to hear your thoughts…

    • Good point man. I’ve studied it out a little but I’m definitely no expert. I do believe in them though. They’re in the Word.

      I think a generational curse can be something as small as health issues to as deep as mental issues. I don’t think we understand the impact of the legacy we leave behind to our children and our children’s children.

      I believe we can be predisposed to a number of issues but they are all obliterated when we take them to Jesus.

  9. There is no doubt, as much as I hate to admit it, that I do carry traits of my earthly father. Some are not so good. I have tried to distance myself from them. Even better though, are the traits I carry from my heavenly Father. Those He continues manifesting in and through me. i want to be His representative.
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