In celebration of Father’s Day, I could think of nothing better than having my own husband, Jason, talk about being a Dad. I hope you will enjoy his perspective.
As a man nearing that weird hill that men go over, called forty, I have had plenty of time to reflect on fatherhood from both the perspective as a son and as a father.
As a son, a father is all-powerful, wise, amazing, cool, can do no wrong. A father’s approval and love is tantamount to winning the SuperBowl. As a Dad, a father is a provider, entertainer, encourager, builder, disciplinarian, and friend.
Both views of being a father have successes and odd neutral outcomes. Both also contain the potential for failure. Despite the potential of failing in one of these areas, none of these failures holds a candle to the benefit of being present.
A child with a present father is confident, affirmed, and despite circumstances, happy.
As a son of divorce, I spent a large swath of my life longing for my father. I lacked confidence and felt unstable. I saw him through awesome glasses with UF (Ultra Forgiveness) lenses. He could do no wrong.
He made hurts go away and lit up my day, but I had to settle for just one day. Most weekends were his, but I was lucky to get a full weekend. As I grew we lived a few states apart. I became a summer visitor. I was a part-time son. Later, I managed to get three years living with him.
I thought all would be awesome. All would be great. He would be there, I would be there, it would work perfectly. It was during this season of my life I learned that a father can be an absent father even when he is present. It is possible to be there and be completely absent when you don’t engage.That is how I would characterize those years.
He wasn’t present for my baseball games — so I quit. He wasn’t present in my schooling — so I quit. He wasn’t that engaged in my martial arts — guess what — I quit.
During this time that I lived with him, my father chose to go to bowling tournaments and participated in multiple leagues a week. I saw so little of him on weekends, after work, or on vacations to Las Vegas (for bowling) that I felt he was less a father and more an obligated caretaker. My basic needs were taken care of, but emotionally I was barren from the lack of relationship we engaged in.
I learned a lot from my Dad. I learned what I did not want to be to my boys — absent.
Now as a father to two boys of my own, I have had busy seasons. During a particularly very busy season, I worked 60-70 hours a week as a manager of a newly created division for a successful window company. During this time I was also taking online classes through a University as well as co-leading a small group with Brianna.
I tried my best to be a good husband to my wife and present father to my boys but certainly failed, resulting in my oldest son beginning a revolt similar to the French Revolution — the time for talking was at an end and he was taking action. He was driven by emotions. The emotions of a child missing his dad, feeling less loved, feeling worthless and set aside for other things.
When dealing with an emotional response it is important to remember — “the thing is not the thing” –meaning that whatever seemingly triggers an emotional outburst is really a response to a previous, more traumatic event or injury. The event, in this case, was a father’s absence.
When a father is absent, whether for the first-time or has always been absent, a child’s sense of being alone is triggered. Their confidence is shaken. Their stability is awash in uncertainty. Their closest example of a loving relationship is defined as an absentee ballot.
I am convinced that a good mother is an absolute necessity for a child, but I have experienced first-hand the destruction of having a father who is not present.
I write this to encourage and remind the husbands and fathers of what they have been given despite the things they may have given up. To celebrate the men who do whatever they can to support their family and then come home ignoring the call to hang out with their friends because they are out playing ball with their children.
These men are taking the kids swimming, cheering them on as they shed their floaties for the first time. They scream in victory as their son hits their first ball and counsel and encourage when they have been struck out. They affirm their daughters on the beauty of their intelligence and teach them to defend themselves in honor. They outwardly groan in defeat as the entire family gangs up on him in a dogpile but smile inwardly at the love that piles upon him.
Some tragically cannot be here. They have passed on or are duty bound, deployed in far reaches of the world. Some are serving the public in incredibly long shifts that make planning family time difficult.
To the one serving country and community, I know their hearts long for time together. We salute their service. Pray for these fathers.
For these fathers and the others who can not (or choose to not be) present, offer to be a supporter. Take their daughter to a dance. Coach and cheer their boy in his endeavors. Teach them skills — love on them.
Much like the heroic efforts of mothers, a truly present father makes sacrifices and he is worth celebrating.
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