We just celebrated Father’s Day, and I was glad to hear so many people offer congratulations for being a dad. I know that fatherhood is steeped in the heavy burden of responsibility and commitment. As a teacher and coach, I’m all too aware of the minefield awaiting young men whose father is absent or has checked-out.
But as I watch television and read magazines, books and journals, I’m also aware that being a dad isn’t perceived the same way as it was just 15 or 20 years ago. I grew up watching Bill Cosby hand out some very good advice and represent dads with class, dignity and much needed humor.
Today, in a world that celebrates freedom, rights and privileges, it is most often the case that being a father is perceived very differently. Yes, we intuitively understand the value of a stable, functioning family unit, but what I watch on television drives home a very different point.
Most often, fathers seem to be the brunt of the jokes perpetrated by their children, and the mother just seems to put up with dad’s foolishness. Sure, he and mom go off to work every day and pay the bills and accept tremendous responsibility for providing the family with security and the children with the freedom to dream about their future.
But something is missing. Dad just doesn’t get the respect he deserves and shoulders the knowledge that his role is under attack.
He is vilified if he’s too weak, but he can’t be too strong. He can offer up an idea or give advice — but not too forcefully — or he is over-opinionated and overbearing.
Sure, dad’s are human, make mistakes and suffer the slings and arrows of a world that can take us for granted, but when all is said and done, our perception of “dad” is one of the most influential parts of our identity.
Stand tall, dads, and thanks for accepting the call!