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To Be a Father

June 13, 2013

Father & Son

What is a Father?

Dad, Daddy, Poppa, Pop, Father  – there are many names by which a father can be known.  Many of them evoke positive memories.  Some of them, unfortunately, may bring back bad ones.  However, with the approach of Father’s Day, I’ve been thinking a little about what it means to be a Father.

I remember the first time I held my child in my arms.  While there are many parts of that day that I cannot perfectly remember, there are some that are indelibly etched in my memory.  I remember hearing his first cry.  I remember the first time I got to hold him.  I remember the first time his mother saw him.  I remember the first time she held him.

In the very strictest sense, my involvement in his creation would qualify me as his father.  Sadly, my presence at his birth separates me from a large segment of those who are fathers in today’s society.  However, I would like to suggest to you that there is much more involved in being a father than procreation or proximity.

What are the traits of a good father?

I have been privileged in my thirty-one years to know several good fathers, and a couple of great ones.  While I cannot claim that I have an exhaustive list of their good qualities, here are a few that stand out.

  1. A good father is never too busy for his children.  I remember many times coming to my Dad and interrupting him at work with my problems or ideas.  I don’t remember a single time that he made me feel that I was a bothersome or unwelcome.  For the record, this hasn’t changed now that I am grown.
  2. A good father is sacrificial.  There are many sacrifices that I took for granted while growing up.  My Dad sacrificed many things for his family – things like sleep, “spare” time, comfort, dreams of a pilots license, and more.
  3. A good father is involved.  While my Dad and I don’t share all the same interests, he made it a point to be involved in my life.  Whether it was the occasional basketball game, the first driving lesson, the first car, or one of the other events I found important, he was there.  Equally important, he involved me in his life.  Trips to the hardware store, buying groceries, changing brakes, and getting firewood were all special occasions because I knew that I would have the chance to spend time with Dad, and that we could talk about anything, and that I would have his attention.
  4. A good father teaches by example.  There are many characteristics we want our children to have – honesty, responsibility, respect, work ethic, initiative, creativity; the list is nearly endless.  I was privileged to watch my Dad model each of these.
  5. A good father cares too much about the development of his children to turn a blind eye to bad behavior.
  6. A good father loves unconditionally.  While there were many times that I deserved and received punishment for bad behavior, I never had reason to doubt Dad’s love for me.

Both my Dad and my Father-in-law have been tremendous examples of these traits.  I, on the other hand, find myself falling far short of these lofty goals.  Being a (good) father is sometimes hard work.  Writing this has been cause for some serious self-inspection.  However, my children are worth any effort – and so are yours.

Something in me changed when my first son was born.  I now have four sons, and each of them is precious.  I want more than anything to be a good father to them.

Happy Fathers Day!  If you love and value your father, be sure to let him know while you have the chance.

Thanks for reading my thoughts,

Dave

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