On this week when we are thinking about fathers our thoughts can be a sea of emotions. The position of father has seen (in my opinion) lots of stress in recent years. Between societal distractions, loss of direction, easy departures (that turn out not to be so easy) and the loss of the Church's voice in the equation I believe being a good father has become more difficult. Here are two bits of advice I have for many of the fathers I have counseled in past years.
The first bit of advice might seem a little harsh, but stay with me. Fathers need to grow up. Rather that stubbornly pursue their family authority, their toys and their recreational desires, maybe fathers should reexamine their priorities. While I was critical at the time, I remember my father doggedly making sure he provided for us and gave us the basics of life ... he didn't wait for the government or anyone else to do it for him. He didn't whine about the effects of feminism, the encroachment of the government, the negative effects of media or any other barrier that impeded his ability to do his job ... he just went out and did it. He wasn't always right, he wasn't always in a perfect mood, and he wasn't always "Father Knows Best." But he taught me to be persistent and to learn from the mistakes I would inevitably made (and not to blame them on someone else).
That brings me to point two ... I see a growing tendency for society to offer excuses so that we can feel like our mistakes are not really our fault. Lots of guys I have conversed with have some idea that these excuse have merit and the world owes them something. Yet when I talk to angry children about their fathers I believe the number one complaint is that dad "makes no mistakes" (at least that he admits). Dads ... realize that being vulnerable is being honest and real. Kids don't need dads who are the super heroes they see on TV. They need dads who teach them to navigate the rocky channels of life, including what to do when (not if) you hit a rock.
I love my dad, and I know he won't be with us for too much longer. But I am thankful that he taught me the there is a time and purpose for all things under heaven (Eccl. 3) and that our fallibility and brokenness are intertwined with both the humanity and divine spirit we have all been given. Be real and grow up ... that's my take! Randy