Friday, June 17, 2011

Father’s Day Remembered

I often feel as if Father’s Day is forgotten in our society. We are careful to remember Mother’s Day, and we should – it’s a big deal! Parenting is hard, and mothers play an indispensible role in the lives of their kids, but so do fathers. Annually, I’ve observed church services recognize mothers, recognizing their role and giving them the credit they are due. But a month goes by, Father’s Day comes, and… nothing. Now, that’s not the case everywhere and every year, but I think Dads need a little more recognition. I’ve talked to other Dads and they’ve had the same impression. I’m not trying to promote another victimized special interest group, but I wonder why Father’s Day doesn’t get equal recognition?

Perhaps it’s because so many households are lacking fathers. For various reasons, kids are growing up without a man in the house. Or perhaps we don’t have a vision of what a good father looks like. Men are different from women. We think differently, we act differently and we have different interests. Different does not mean better and different does not mean inferior. We are different.

Personally, I agree whole-heartedly with the French: viva la difference! In the beginning, God created a woman for Adam because he needed a partner, but the joke I often hear is that Eve was perfectly fine without Adam. No, God created us for each other. Scripture speaks a lot to our need for each other as well as our differences. I believe that Mother’s Day speaks to one of the great needs a woman has: to feel cherished. Husbands are instructed to love their wives as Christ loved the church, but when Deb and I have provided pre-marriage / marriage counseling, we suggest the groom translates “love” as “cherish”. When a man sets his wife aside to pursue his selfish interests (e.g. – other women, work, video games, etc.), this basic need is left unfulfilled. Wives, on the other hand, are instructed to respect their husbands. It’s a basic need of every man. Yes, we need love, but there’s nothing missing in our lives if we aren’t “cherished”. However, take away respect, and men feel it. In recent years, I’ve started using a different word to describe a man’s need for respect: we desire “admiration”. It drives us to explore, to seek out new challenges.

So if we cherish our mothers on Mother’s Day, lets admire our fathers on Father’s Day. My father had Multiple Sclerosis, and there were many things that he just couldn’t do with me as I was growing up. I could focus on what he couldn’t do and feel ripped off, or I could be grateful for him and admire him for what “was” rather than what “wasn’t”. Our fathers may have had constraints that were emotional, financial, or physical. We can focus on what “wasn’t” or we can focus on what “was”… and if our fathers are still alive, we can still hope for what “is still possible”.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we admire a father who has done nothing to earn that respect. Those cases exist, but I believe we should look for what can be admired about the man. If your father is absent, I think it’s important to talk with people who can help you find an admirable quality. He may have squandered an ability, but it was still passed on to you. You can admire that... if nothing else.

And the strange thing is, the one who benefits most from this admiration is you. When we focus on what “is” rather than what “isn’t”, we can accept the gifts available to each of us instead of denying them. And we can appreciate everything our Heavenly Father gives us, able to fully admire the One who is truly worthy of that admiration.

copyright ©2011 Mitchell Malloy (