“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”
- Ronald Reagan.
Any “man” can be a father, i.e., someone who is only there physically or who isn’t there at all. But, society has a growing problem (and it’s not the rising gas prices.) We need more dads. By more, I mean, a lot more. The sad fact is that today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.2 million — are being raised without a father. Fellas, we can do better than this.
For many fathers, it’s easy to get caught up in being the “provider” and neglect the very thing our kids need the most- us.
Truly one of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last nine years of raising three kids (yes I realize I’m not even close to being done yet) is they need my presence far more than they need presents. Don’t get me wrong, they like presents, and I spoil them every chance I get. But ten years from now they won’t remember the time I bought them a $10 dinosaur Lego set, but they will remember the time we spent putting it together. They won’t remember the clothes or the Disney Infinity characters, but they will remember the camping/ trips and all the times we spent hours playing board games as a family. It’s our time that matters most.
I remember having discussions with my wife during her pregnancy with our first born about the differences in motherhood and fatherhood. She tried to explain that a mom becomes a mom the moment she sees that little blue + sign, but a dad becomes a dad the moment he holds his child for the first time. I didn’t get what she meant at first, but indeed it all clicked the moment the nurse placed Katie Rose in my arms. I was a dad now. This little human would depend not just on my protection but my love and affection. She would need my strength and my hugs. A kiss on the forehead and the occasional slap on the wrist. She needed a dad.
But it’s not always easy being a dad. We work a lot, sacrifice so much, and sometimes feel like the pressure of the world is on our shoulders. Not always being around can make us feel inadequate as a parent and wonder if we are doing enough. Am I spending enough time with each kid? Am I correctly balancing work with being a father and husband? Am I neglecting my wife while trying to spend time with my kids or vice versa? Do I cut the grass or play catch? (Hint: Play catch)
While being a parent can be hard at times, the world doesn’t need perfect dads. It needs present dads. Dads who still know what it means to play with "army mans" (that’s what my son calls it), but who can also play dress up and afternoon tea. Guys who understand the words sacrifice, love, and discipline. We need more dads who aren’t there just for the fun and games (being the fun parent), but who also give their wives some time off by putting the kids down at night. Kids need to see their dads love on their moms. Also, nothing warms a mother’s heart more than seeing their husband loving on her kids. PRO TIP: that may be worth at least a couple folded loads of laundry.
So for this Dad’s Day, guys don’t get caught up in the things you aren’t doing or can do better. Just be there. Love your kids and spend quality time with them. Trust me, that’s all they really want anyway.
- Lyell Walker