I asked a few of my friends over the last several days what they think of Father’s Day, and pretty much there was a large consensus that Father’s Day didn’t seem as important as Mother’s Day. Now, there could be several contributing factors that have shaped their thoughts around this topic but one of the main common factors is the absence of fathers. The topic of “absentee fathers” is loaded with complexities and ambiguity. However, I would like to share some of my experiences as a grandson, a son, and my role as a father, in hopes that some of my experience may encourage other men to step into their role as a father.
If there was any void in my life it would have to be not having my grandfathers in my life. My dad’s father, Herbert Simons, passed when my father was just a young boy. I’ve heard stories about him, seen pictures of him, and even visited his grave. But I would’ve loved to know him. My mother’s father, Johnny Dixon, passed when I was a young boy. I was his boy. He put a smile on my face. And I was devastated when I learned he passed away. But in spite of the absence of his father, my father was and still is a great father. Through my rebellious phase I couldn’t see his insight or respect his wisdom. He always told me “you don’t see it now, but you’ll see what I’m talking about later.” (And oh I see it now…)
My father made a statement one time and said, “Me being the best father I can be has nothing to do with how great of a mother your mom is to you. I’m committed to you because I love you. Nothing will change that.” He wasn’t throwing shade at my mother but he was trying to show us that his devotion in being a great father was not going to be influenced by any other factors but his unconditional love toward us. So I’ve made the same commitment to my kids as well.
So on this Father’s Day I want to share a few things that keep me in harmony with fatherhood and hopefully can give you insight into being a great father.
Your Presence Matters
Sometimes, it’s not about what you say, it’s about your presence. There is something amazing that happens when your child sees you walk through the door of their classroom, show up to a ball game, or for a performance. Showing up is huge in a world that prioritizes everything over family. Money won’t raise your child but your presence can impact them in ways that you would be surprised to know. As a young man, when my father would show up to things there was an extra measure of confidence that I had to accomplish the task before me. You may never hear “thank you” or get a pat on the back for being present, but still show up.
Your Voice Matters
Kids ask a ton of questions (…well, at least mine do). I’ve discovered that they’re trying to connect the dots of life and its our responsibility to fill in some of the gaps. Fathers, your voice matters. Your perspective. Your thank you. Your apology. Your guidance. I think for a season God’s voice sounded like my father. God spoke through a voice that I was familiar with. Sometimes we can feel like we’re speaking but no see no visible change. However I’ve realized that our words are like seeds that must be planted to grow over an extended period of time. I will never forget being in a car accident, fearing the worst, and crying uncontrollably but hearing my father’s deep, stern voice as he arrived on the scene. It didn’t change the physical pain, but it gave me comfort that I would be okay. No matter how bad the situation, I knew I would be okay.
Your Embrace Matters
There is something amazing that happens when you hold your child for the first time. For me, I was in awe, speechless, and completely overjoyed by the moment. As fathers, we should always recognize that the ways in which we embrace our children matter. I will never forget the time that Isaiah laid eyes on Chuck E Cheese. I’m not sure he could walk yet but somehow he jumped straight into my arms. In his fear, he found safety and comfort in my embrace. I grew up in a very affectionate home. My parents held our hands, shook our hands, gave us high-fives, hugged us, kissed us, and told us that they loved us regularly. I know this may not be the case for everyone, but I think these things matter. I think children being in a home where there is the presence of affection as well as tough love prepares them for the world we will live in. We owe it to our children to hug them, kiss them, hold their hands, etc. I want them to know that love is an action word. We should never leave that up to mothers to do solely. Men we must be willing teach our sons how to change a tire and also teach them how to embrace family. How we embrace our children will teach them how they will allow others to embrace them.