Call him Dad, Papa or Father. He’s needed by all of us.
Recently we celebrated Father’s Day. It made me think about my Daddy and about the men I have known who are fathers. They approach fathering in various ways, some very different from what I conceived as being a father. There are so many children who have no father in the home and so many children have step-parents today; some kids I knew through my teaching had more than one stepfather or stepmothers.
I watched “Trouble with the Curve,” a movie about an estranged father and daughter who spent many formative years apart then and rekindled a relationship that revealed so much about what each one of them had learned about being a father, and having a father. It seems that our society has so progressed, that more parents and children are estranged than together. I recommend reuniting.
Together or estranged, the memories both parent and child carry for a lifetime are remarkable. It is moments and little events that seemed unimportant when they happened but, as adults, those few words or simple events take on significant meaning.
I recall several precious moments with my father. When I was 5, my Daddy and I were in the back yard talking to our minister neighbor. Usually my twin sister was with me, so this was uncommon. In her shrill voice, the minister’s wife yelled from their back door, “Harry, you get in this house right now!” It sounded funny so I repeated it mimicking her voice and tone. I felt my dad’s hand tighten in mine.
Shortly after, Daddy and I took a walk. As we walked down the street, he talked of spring as the time when things blossom. He reminded me I was going to kindergarten in a few months. Daddy said that probably no one else would be wearing glasses like I did (and I wore thick ones that looked like the bottoms of coke bottles). He added, “You know, some of the kids will laugh about your glasses; will that be OK?”
They did laugh and call me names. I was the only one in the school who wore glasses. I think it was me mimicking the minister’s wife that made him decide to teach me this valuable lesson about individual differences. I never forgot.
The decline of the family is evidenced by the number of divorces and single mothers raising children. Several outside influences contribute to this decline, including television and devices such as video games and social media, resulting in less and less time for children and their parents. Therefore, one-on-one time without any “props” is more valuable than ever to parents and children.
It is sad that dads too often have no interaction with their children. Therefore, children grow up without the treasured relationship every person should know as a role model for becoming a parent when they are adults.
I recommend schools add a course on marriage and parenting. Sex education is not about intimate relations; it indirectly promotes promiscuity by offering condoms, birth control and abortion counseling. A marriage is far more than sex, yet many marry only when pregnancy occurs. Many young people are immature and have no idea what kind of responsibility they are entering. Moms and dads need to be in charge of their children; no school or social program takes their place.
Ann Bednarski is a retired educator and journalist.