Fathers day. In the past, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it. Thankfully, that relationship is now tending a lot more to the ‘love’ side and running away from the ‘hate’ side. Actually, I really quite enjoy Fathers Day. Quite a lot.
Much of what is written about Fathers Day is either a tribute to someone’s dad, or, as if often becoming trendy, a tribute to someone’s mother, when they have an absent father (for what ever reason).
This Fathers Day, for me, it’s about being a father. About being a father, a dad, when you really have no idea about what you are doing.
I’ve been blessed to have a wonderful step-father who I respect and love a lot. He certainly looked after my brothers and I to the best of his ability and I will always be thankful that he tried his upmost to raise us boys in the right ways.
Growing up without a dad leaves you with a fistful of questions and a soulful of doubts. You always want to know if you are doing things right, if you are worth anything, if people will actually ever like you. I guess it wasn’t until I grew up I realised the deficit in my life of not having a dad.
When my first son died, the first Fathers Day was really quite terrible. So was the one after that, actually. I felt like a son without a father, and a dad without a son.
Since having more children, I’ve really had to be deliberate in what it means to be a dad. I’ve had to be deliberate in who I am, my identity. One of my best mates wrote in my school diary once “Male by birth. Man by choice”. That phrase has really stuck with me, but I’ve never really understood what it means until just recently. Being a dad isn’t just about bringing in a payslip every fortnight for your family (I’ll write more about that in the future!). Being a dad, a father, a husband, a man is so much more than that.
For many years I’ve struggled with not knowing truly who I am and wondering what my dad would think about me, about what I did, about who I am. You see, when someone dies, they leave an extremely long and glowing shadow for you to walk in. I never really felt that I could live up to the legend that was my dad. Being a husband and father to me became a passive activity. In recent months, I’ve been challenged about that passivity.
Many helpful books and articles have been written about fatherhood. I’ve also discovered many interesting websites that have given me some practical tips on being a dad and a husband. The key things I’ve learned about being a man is about doing things deliberately. As a man, you have to be deliberate about things. About your direction. Your parenting. Your money. Your health. Your faith.
What does that mean? It means that default responsibility is the minimum expectation. There is so much more to life then bringing home a paycheque. Your wife needs you in her life as an active, involved partner. Your children need to see you model love, citizenship, guidance, responsibility and leadership in your home, your circles and groups.
I’m not going to re-hash what has already been written – others have written about being a dad in much more eloquent ways that I can. What I will conclude is that being a dad is a deliberate, active activity. It is fun and frustrating and enjoyable and terrifying and rewarding and exhausting. It is the most amazing journey. Do you want to drive the journey, or just be a passenger along for the ride?