The gift of fatherhood

Steve Frey

Father’s Day is tomorrow, and young children everywhere are creating special pictures and small crafts to show their love for Dad. Being a father is not easy, and being a really good father takes a loving, lifetime commitment to the wellbeing of a child. On the other hand, to a father, you will always be his girl or boy no matter how old you both may be.

It’s almost a cliche, but fathers come in all different shapes, sizes and personalities. If we are lucky, we have an exceptional relationship with our fathers and an appreciation for all they have done for us in our lives. Yes, we think back on the big events in life, but there are probably a number of unknown little things our fathers have done for us we’ll never discover.

Of course, our appreciation for our fathers sometimes grows as we get older. Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Many have had a similar experience, as teenage years of maturing and growing perception can sometimes pit uninhibited youthful energy against the common sense and wisdom of dear old Dad!

Dads today seem more enlightened, or “woke” in contemporary parlance, than perhaps they were in the past. Maybe it’s because of changes in society where fathers have become more engaged in the lives of their children and are not so stoic or detached. Of course, sometimes fathers were unconsciously carrying on traditions or ways of viewing parenting based on what they learned from their own fathers.

Even those fathers who might have seemed somewhat distant or reserved often showed their love in different ways. Perhaps it was by always being there to help out with a project, serving as a coach for a little league team, or just trying to share wisdom at a teachable moment.

If you grew up in the 1960s, you were exposed to idyllic (for the times) fathers in shows like “Leave It to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best.” You didn’t necessarily see a lot of hugging and emotion, but you saw caring fathers having chats with children by the fireside, bestowing on the young ones the wisdom that only fathers (on those shows, anyway) seemed to possess. There was a real connection. There was caring. There was love.

Today, fathers know how to express their love a little easier. Sure, in the past most children felt loved and knew that they had a loving bond with their father, but now it is typical for dads to show just how much they love their children not only with words or actions but with honest and expressive emotions. They laugh with their children; they deeply console their children; and, yes, they sometimes cry with their children.

Dads feel the ups and downs of growing up right alongside their children and let them know that they are always there for them. It’s no longer the mom alone having the close emotional bond with children; fathers have taken on that role as an equal partner: caring, nurturing, supporting and loving.

Again, fathers come in all different varieties and always have. Many in the past had those emotional, full-of-expression personalities and some were quieter. And yes, some were much better at understanding and excelling at fatherhood than others. Regrettably, not all fathers are capable of taking on the challenge of being a good parent, and some children spend much of their lives trying to figure out why or even blaming themselves needlessly. Fortunately, those cases are few today.

Fathers have a huge impact on the lives of children. A family where the father truly takes on the role of parenting and nurturing is indeed fortunate. Children watch and learn from their parents, and the lessons they learn help to develop their own understanding of love and fatherhood. Those lessons determine the kind of loving, caring father or mother they will become in the future.

So let’s celebrate Dad and all he has or will do for us. We should be grateful for the love, guidance, support and wisdom our fathers have shared with us in our lives. We give them a small token of our appreciation on Father’s Day, but they have given us the grand gift of their love—and themselves—for a lifetime.

Happy Father’s Day!


Steve Frey is a writer and CEO of Ascendant Educational Services based in Radford.

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