If you were to believe most Father’s Day ads, you might think that we dads are quite different than our parental counterparts. Ads for Mom’s Day imply family gatherings and surrounding mom with her favorite people, while ads for Dads suggest giving him the day off, the space he needs to go fishing or camping alone or some new toy he can play with in the garage. Maybe I’m the odd one out, but the perfect day for me is not a motorcycle ride alone on a country road. It’s being surrounded by children and grandchildren who make you feel wanted and loved, even if they are grown. It’s not something we ever outgrow.
The other night I was watching one of the popular talent competitions on television. A young thirteen-year old girl astonished the crowd with an old throwback song that she killed. Upon the applause and accolades of the audience she broke into tears and went running into the arms of her dad like a five or six year old might do. I broke, because I remember that feeling! When your child wants nothing more than your love and approval, and is content to just be on your lap or close by, there is no higher achievement or sense of pride one can have than at that very moment of being Dad. Sadly, for most anyway, those moments tend to decrease with age. It’s not that the love and appreciation isn’t still there, it’s just the misconception that we fathers no longer need or want that display of affection. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was struggling to make my business a success. It remains one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted. But no matter how bad a day I might have been having, when my grandson came running into my office and jumped into my lap, followed by his older sister, everything bad in my life faded away like a puff of smoke. Their love and presence put everything back into perspective at least for a short time. These are moments and memories that will remain precious to me. It is then that I have some sense of what our Heavenly Father must feel when we approach him in the same way, wanting nothing more than to be in his presence, to crawl up into his lap and embrace being loved just for who we are.
My children are grown and the grandkids are getting older every year, but I will never outgrow the need to feel their love. This is the point I hope to get across with his post. Don’t buy into the media or marketing suggestions otherwise. Dads need to feel they are still loved. They need to know they are still needed, even if just for wisdom and encouragement. We need to know we aren’t forgotten or left behind by our children who now have their own families and children. We need to know we made some small difference or impact, either in our approach to parenthood or in the lessons we learned by our mistakes, so that we can take some small credit in the good and successes of our children. If married, dads need to know their wives admire and love them for their roles as the father of her children. That respect is priceless-wives will never truly know! But above all, I think most dads just want that feeling when that young son or daughter runs and jumps into their arms, just because he’s their dad and they love him that much. When that stops happening for whatever reason, then yes, we may as well go on that weekend fishing trip alone because nothing will ever truly fill the void of a child who no longer needs their parent. It’s an empty that is hard to fully describe. Divorced fathers feel the pain of this rejection even when they have done little to deserve it. It’s a pain I’m familiar with.
I have so many friends my age who will not be able to spend Father’s Day with their dads or grandfathers because they are no longer living. Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was ten years old. There will be fathers in convalescent centers who will not be acknowledged by their families again this year. There will be fathers who are widowed and will spend the day alone. God Bless the moms for all they do-they deserve every accolade showered upon them for the roles they play in our lives. But don’t be deceived into thinking we dads don’t want a little love as well. If you really want to make his day, crawl up in his lap and just squeeze him for a moment. I guarantee that no matter how old you are or how big you may be, he will still see you as that little one from long ago and will relish the gesture for all it’s worth. He, I, we still need to feel we are that larger-than-life hero in the eyes of our kids. There is little more important.
Have a Happy and Blessed Father’s Day.