Fathers are misunderstood, unfairly stereotyped and often don’t get enough credit. At least that’s my side of the story. So for me, Father’s Day gives everyone the chance to recognize someone who is often overlooked. Here is how Father’s Day began, according to Wikipedia:
“The first observance of Father’s Day is believed to have been held on June 19, 1910 through the efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. After listening to a church sermon about the newly recognized Mother’s Day, Dodd felt strongly that fatherhood needed recognition, as well. She wanted a celebration that honored fathers like her own father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran who was left to raise his family alone when his wife died giving birth. On June 19, 1910, members went to church wearing roses: red to honor a living father, and white to honor a deceased one. Dodd traveled through the city in a horse-drawn carriage, carrying gifts to shut-in fathers.”
But then I read this part: “Mother’s Day was met with enthusiasm but Father’s Day was often met with laughter. It was the target of much satire, parody and derision, including jokes from the local newspaper. Many people saw it as the first step in filling the calendar with mindless promotions.”
Ouch! Dads are still the target of much satire, parody and derision. Watch any television show and you will see one of four types of dads:
- Workaholics: We pay the bills but avoid day-to-day family issues such as changing diapers, disciplining the kids or cooking the meals. We are often heard saying: “I take care of the important stuff while the little woman takes care of the kiddos.” (Give me a break!)
- Deadbeats: If divorced it is assumed that dads are deadbeats on the run from child support. In fact most are very responsible and work hard to maintain regular contact with their children.
- Abusers: Child abuse can be physical or mental and there are certainly abusers out there but few fathers would dream of doing anything that would harm their children.
- Macho Men: He is more famous for exploits on the ball field than for any ability or desire to manage and care for the children. Favorite line: “But honey — the team needs me!” Actually community activities involving just men have declined as more dads spend free time at home.
These stereotypes certainly exist but most dads take their responsibilities seriously. Since both parents usually continue their careers, both must look for creative ways to share the duties as well as the pleasures of raising their children. It’s exciting to watch young couples grow into their roles.
More dads are now becoming single parents. I chose to raise our children when their mother left. It was difficult at first. Women in our church sometimes brought meals figuring no “man” cooks but we survived on a simple menu of hot dogs, hamburgers and frozen pizza. I learned to clean the house, give the children baths and even buy their clothing. I never did learn how to fix Lisa’s hair but every Sunday a kind soul would offer help. It wasn’t easy but we managed just like every other single parent.
I am happily remarried now and deeply appreciate Mell’s contribution to our family but I have also learned that my role as a father is a vital link in the continued good health of our family.
My children are now grown and I’m proud to write, they are doing well. Like every Dad, I have my memory chest. One memory is a poem, my son, Stephen, wrote in fifth grade titled “Mr. Mom.”
While my mom was gone,
Dad had to handle things from now on.
So we called him Mr. Mom.
He did the laundry,
Cleaned every dish,
He cleaned up the bedrooms,
Fed every fish.
Now that mom is gone,
Dad handles things from now on.
We call him, Mr. Mom.
So, consider this column my tribute to the many Dads who struggle to be good parents and good providers for their families. Whether you are married or single, whether you actively share the parenting role or bear sole responsibility in raising the children – please know that God will bless you.
Paul wrote about us dads in the Bible: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) This serves as a warning for all of us to concentrate our parental energy on what is truly important.
If you are a Dad, who is involved with his children and diligently setting the right example — I honor you. If you are not that kind of dad – consider the importance of changing. Your willingness to step up to the responsibility of being a good father could be the best gift any child ever received.
As for Father’s Day – if your father is alive, give him more than a tie or a tool. Write him a letter of thanks. Give him your time, your prayers, your forgiveness and most of all your love. If your father is now deceased find a way to honor his memory.
Here is an idea straight from the Wikipedia article:
“On June 19, 1910, members went to church wearing roses: red to honor a living father, and white to honor a deceased one. Dodd traveled through the city in a horse-drawn carriage, carrying gifts to shut-in fathers.”
So, this Sunday honor your father by coming to church, wear that rose and then look for way to help a shut-in father near you. Now that would make Father’s Day meaningful.