It’s Father’s Day again and this year I want to offer some words of encouragement to the fathers. To be clear, I am not talking about mere “sperm donors” – who have been absent since conception. I am talking about real fathers – the ones who are actively involved in their children’s lives. Fathers who are present and who are guiding their children and modelling how they should move through life. Anyone can procreate. That is not difficult, but it takes a real man to raise a child, whether or not the child is biologically related to him.
Fathers, parenting your children is the most important job you will ever have. Period. Children don’t come with manuals and each child is different, so you have to keep learning and growing with them. It is challenging, but if done right, you will produce well-adjusted contributors to the world. Lord knows we need them.
If you are one of the many fathers who are holding it down and doing all you can to take care of your family, congratulations! I salute you and I pray for continued strength for you to keep it up. I know it is not easy to have to shoulder so much responsibility. Be sure to take care of yourself – to rest and recover. Take care of your mental health as well, not just your physical health. I know for many men it is hard to admit that you need help. There is no shame in asking for help. Surround yourself with friends who will build you up and encourage you when you need it. Good friends shouldn’t just tell you what you want to hear. They should also hold you accountable when you need it.
For some of you, the relationship with the child’s mother may be difficult and that may make you want to give up. Please don’t. Your child needs to know that you love him/her regardless of the relationship between you and the mother. When you leave, your absence creates a void that cannot be filled and the impact is often felt for generations. So, even though it gets hard and you may feel like checking out, please don’t. Fight for your child and your relationship with that child.
If you are a step-father, raising children who are not your own, you are an angel. Blending a family is difficult and taking on the task of raising another man’s child cannot be easy. So, you deserve all the respect possible. Those children are lucky to have you and the world will be a better place because of you.
Fathers, today is for you. I celebrate you and I hope you will feel all the love that is due to you. You deserve all your flowers and I am here to give them to you. Today, fathers, I say to you, Thank You! I am sure that is not something many of you hear very often. You need to know that you are doing God’s work and society needs you.