Happy Father’s Day… For Real

Father and child

(photo: Silvia de Luque)

Dads get a bad rap these days. Proportionately, there are more studies on deadbeat dads, absentee fathers, violent fathers, drunk fathers, abusive fathers, and revolving door boyfriends posing as fathers, than there are about moms.

On Mother's Day, the world bows down to the woman (most of the time) and praises her for her tenacity in the face of harsh circumstances, for raising kids in a terrible age, and for always 'being there'. I would be careful here, though, as women have been disproportionatly the more abused and oppressed overall, and it's heartbreaking that women are often expected to still act compassionately, lovinginly, relationally, gently, meekly, strongly, while still suffering at the hands of not only their partners, but society's impositions. Yes, women abuse and neglect as men do – we are all broken. But we cannot wipe clean the history of the uneven playing field of history and current practice.

But on Father's Day, preachers tend to lecture dads about how badly our youth are struggling and it's largely in part to poor fatherhood. Hmmmm… Happy Father's Day indeed. Somehow it seems unfair.

Are there dads who dodge being true fathers and desert their parental responsibilities? Yes. Are there dads who abuse and hurt their families? Yes. Are there dads who squander the family income on alcohol, drugs, gambling, and sex? Yes.

And it causes great strife and pain. I have no wish to undermine anyone who has suffered under the hands of their fathers.

But there is a good share of mothers who do the same. But we somehow overlook that time and again. It's somehow taboo to mention moms who over-shop on clothes leaving no money for food, or lose everything at bingo, or use sad emotional and psychological abuse to control their families and so on. But because they 'stuck around', the abuse can be swept under the carpet. Not always… but enough that dads are demonized by comparison. They were only the sperm donors, after all. Their actions afterward are more fair game to pulverize than mothers'.

The fact is: we need mommies. And we need daddies. Both. And there are many daddies who go above and beyond the call of duty and they don't always look like the upper-middle class businessman with a Dentyne smile. In fact, most don't. Perhaps we've lost our ability to see real fathers?

So today… Happy Father's Day:

…to the dads who take their turns changing poopy diapers at 2am…

… to the dads who force themselves to change their swearing habits so their young children don't learn foul language…

… to the dads who leave work a half hour early so there's enough daylight to squeeze in one more bicycle riding lesson in with their kid…

… to the dads who wake up EARLY Saturday mornings to make those special pancakes only dads know how to make (my own dad had a secret recipe for the perfect apple cinnamon pancakes no chef in the world could duplicate)…

… to the dads who help with homework…

… to the dads who date their daughters and show them just how wonderfully they should be treated…

… to the dads who can't always be physically with their children but make every effort to be a part of their lives through child support, letters, photos, surprise visits, and more…

… to the dads who tousle hair and wink…

… the the dads who aren't afraid to cry with their children and in front of their children…

… to the dads who treat mommies like gold, even if the marriage didn't work out…

… to the dads who get up at 5am and take their kids to hockey practice…

… to the dads who aren't biologically fathers to their children, but love their kids with all their hearts and have proven themselves TRUE daddies…

… to the dads who see God as their Heavenly Father and take their cue from Him and live likewise…

… to all the dads whose kids' friends have no dads, or 'deadbeat' dads, and gladly welcome with open arms those friends as part of their family…

… to all these dads and more, we thank you. Yes, the world is a poorer place when fathers don't act as true fathers were meant to be. But the world is a far richer place for all the things daddies do that go unnoticed. Without you, we would be impoverished indeed.

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