The celebration of Father’s Day reminds us about both the importance and the challenges of fatherhood. Fathers don’t always enjoy the glow of intimacy and admiration we give our mothers. Indeed, fathers have the cultural image of bread winner, disciplinarian, authority figure. When you were growing up, how often did you hear your mother say, “just wait until your father gets home!” Traditionally, our culture has often put fathers into a very difficult role. They must be aloof but intimate; must earn the wage, but be present; must be compassionate, but disciplinarian.
Well, it’s time we cut our dads some slack!
It is no surprise that the father we all most often recognize in the Bible is the father of the prodigal son. It is the most inspiring and revealing story of fatherhood. It is unconditional love in its highest form. While we use that story to reflect God’s grace and love, it is also meant to show how human fathers should be understood.
Often, fathers feel the burden of their responsibilities but are conditioned not to show it. That sometimes interferes with both their ability to express affection, and our ability to recognize it. Luckily, our culture is changing and more fathers are involved in parenting in a very direct and intimate way. Some fathers now take paternal leave when a child is born. They also understand the importance of play with their children in evenings and on weekends.
Our understanding of what “family” means also is evolving. Some of us have had the pleasure of being a godfather or “father figure” to younger family members who may have lost their biological father. Many children grow up in single parent homes with only a father or a mother. We have learned that it’s the love, care and presence that define fatherhood.
So as we celebrate this special day, for that special person in our lives who we call father, remember that he may seem remote but likely is more close to you than you realize. He may be the definition of “tough love,” but it is love. Even if your dad, father or “old man” is grumpy, opinionated and distant, remember that more likely than not you are more important to him than you can imagine. So, if your dad is/was present/loving and showed it, then show it to him. In either case, embarrass dad with an abundance of attention, praise and acknowledgement. Trust me, he will love it!