Father’s Day is this coming Sunday. This week I am going to tribute the true fathers out there. You know who they are. They are the guys that do not neglect their responsibility as father, mentor and leader. They provide for, they protect, they play with, and they pray for their kids. Here’s to all the men who have earned the title of DAD.
Day 1: The endeavor of fatherhood
Being a father truly is a big responsibility. Child psychologist and family expert Kyle Pruett says that “fatherhood is the single most creative, complicated, fulfilling, frustrating, engrossing, enriching, depleting endeavor of a man’s adult life.” It is not for the faint of heart, and the state of our country is proof that there just are not enough men out there willing to step up to the plate. Instead, they quit or come up short.
I heard of a special offering given by Hallmark to prison inmates on Mother’s Day years ago. The greeting card company provided free cards for the prisoners to send to their moms and the response was overwhelming. It was so much so that Hallmark decided to do the same thing for Father’s Day. But they encountered much different results. None of the inmates utilized the free service. Coincidence? I doubt it.
One problem I see is that we have a serious shortage of good quality role models. Young men do not know how to be a man because the men in their lives were really just little boys in adult bodies. An absent dad, whether in mind or body, is incredibly destructive. That leaves so many women trying to fill two roles, one of which she has no idea how to fill because she has never been a man! The by-product is generations of children who get a more and more convoluted picture of what it means to be a man. This is not about exterior characteristics or interests. Instead, it is about character. The cycle can and must be broken! It can and will be broken by men who recognize there is a problem, who choose to stand in the gap, and who take on the role of father for the many children who do not have one.
Like my friend Jon. A single mom with four children has been staying with his family because times are tough. Jon took on the role of dad to those kids without hesitation. I saw a picture of him asleep on the couch with one of the kids asleep on his chest. Mind you, he already has three of his own! This sleeping child was not his own, but Jon chose to stand in the gap and be the role model they so desperately need. That is how we overcome the absent-father syndrome that runs so rampant in our society.
I think another issue is that we want to feed our adventurous spirit, to defeat the dragon and save the princess…metaphorically speaking of course. But in fatherhood, and in marriage, complacency can set in because the adventure seems to have ended. So we look for a new fresh adventure. Career…sports…hobbies…a fling on the side. These things and many more can bring satisfaction to our lust for adventure. It is important in these times to recognize it and fight against that complacency. Writer Kent Nerburn said it like this: “Fatherhood, like marriage, is a constant struggle against your limitations and self-interests. But the urge to be a perfect father is there, because your child is a perfect gift.” That is a powerful statement. I would argue it is more than just a struggle; it is an all out war! But it is a war worth fighting and an essential one to win because children are an amazing gift from God.
I am very fortunate to have incredible role models. My dad is numero uno. He was always there, no matter the demands at work. He was at every game, concert, or event I had. I respect him more than any other man or person on this earth. My brother is another. To watch his relationship with his 18-year old daughter is inspiring since I have a little girl of my own. My niece is a beautiful, smart and confident young lady with a rock solid faith in Christ. That is no coincidence. My brother has a unique bond with her, a strong one, and I see evidence in the person she has become. (My sister in law definitely deserves credit her too, but this is about fatherhood!) There are others, but not enough time to describe them.
To the men out there that have earned the title of “father”, this endeavor of fatherhood is worth it and I encourage you to stay the course, do what is right, and stand in the gap where necessary. My hat comes off to you.