By CATHY BROWNFIELD
Family Recovery Center
“Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad,” say the words on a T-shirt.
It’s a tough job and somebody has to do it. Being Dad requires strength, durability, patience, tolerance, labor, love, and more. Kids have friends. Dad has to be more than a friend, more than an authority figure. Dad has to be a mentor. Being Dad is the most important job a man will ever undertake because its effects will outlive him.
Even if he lives to be 102 he helps his children to fill their life toolboxes with strong coping skills that will carry them through their lives and into his grandchildren's lives.
Dad is the first important man in his daughter’s life. How he interacts with her teaches her what her value is. How Dad treats her mother teaches a daughter what a woman is worth, what her expectations should be in the relationships she will have with other men in her life.
Respect weighs in heavily…or the lack of it. For, if a daughter can’t see that her father loves her or if she can’t understand that she is important to him, how can any other man love, honor and respect her, or how can she ever trust any other man to love her for who she is? If her father batters her mother emotionally, mentally or physically, he also is battering her because she is a witness to the abuse. Daughters are smart enough to know that if Dad doesn’t care, love or respect Mom, he isn’t going to care, love or respect her.
Dad is a mentor for his sons, and Granddad to his grandsons. Sons look up to their fathers and emulate them. Sons learn how to treat others from watching Dad in action. Is Dad respectful of others? Or does he spew hatred, meanness and cruelty? Does he teach his sons to respect themselves? Does he give them a good work ethic so they will be good providers for their families? Or does he teach his sons to be selfish and force their families to live on society’s fringes? Does he care about home and family? Or is he rarely around home?
Nobody ever said being Dad was easy. When it is such an important job, how could it be easy? Dad works hard, often long hours, especially when a special need comes along…like a prom dress, a class trip, those college bills or other things. He doesn’t complain because he doesn’t get to sleep in on the weekend. He does what his family needs because he loves his family, wants the best for his family and he knows his children won’t live under his roof and care forever. He wants to give them a good start before they fly from the nest to make their own rules, and start their own families. Then his grandfatherly role will kick in.
“My work is done. I don’t have to set examples any more,” is not Granddad’s role. Less a disciplinarian, more a mentor, a man always has the responsibility of setting good examples for his family. A man may retire from his “regular” job, but he never retires from family business.
When we are children growing up, Dad makes everything look so easy we can hardly wait to grow up so we can be like him, make our own rules, do what we want whenever we want. Nobody can tell us what to do when we grow up.
Yet, why does Dad go to his job everyday? Who tells him to? It’s an “R” word: Responsibility. And an “L” word, Love. Who else is going to do these things that need to be done to take care of his responsibilities, and for each child he helps to make and bring into this world he is accepting the responsibilities of raising that child. If a man doesn’t want those responsibilities, why is he in the “making babies” business?
Dad is the one who says, “Don’t worry until I do. Then it’s too late” so the rest of the family won’t worry, but he keeps right on worrying until he resolves the issue. Sometimes a child will know that Dad is worrying for the whole family, even if Dad doesn’t know it. Dad plays Chase with the children and later the grandchildren. He coaches Little League or plays pitch and catch at home with his children. He plays Hide-n-Seek, Kick-the-Can, Midnight, Stop-n-Go, Red light-Green light after dark with ALL the kids in the neighborhood, even if he’s too tired. He takes his children to the park, the pool, the lake, bike riding. He takes them fishing and patiently baits hooks because his daughter doesn’t want to hurt the worm by running the hook through it. Does it hurt the worm less if Dad does it? Or is Dad more experienced in the hurting department?
Dad reviews the spelling list one last time before his child catches the school bus, tutors his child in math that sometimes tests his own understanding. Sometimes Dad even cooks dinner to give Mom a break and because he likes to play in the kitchen.
Dad and Mom are a team. They back each other up in front of the children and take their disagreements behind closed doors to nurture unity within the home. They respect each other and desire the respect of their life partner. Parents want to give their children good values that will support a happy family.
And one day out of the year Dad gets a little more recognition than usual, although he is worthy of recognition every day of the year because he works so hard for his family.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. If your family needs a little help getting back on track, there is a network of services available in Columbiana County to assist you. Contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.