Recognizing the importance of fathers

Published 8:36 pm Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I joined the Girl Scouts because my mother was the troop leader, and I really didn’t like the babysitter my mom hired when her duty to the Scouts called.

And despite all the time I spent with my mom through my two or three years in Girl Scouts, it was actually an event honoring fathers that is still my favorite memory from my short stint with the organization.

I was 6 years old when the local Girl Scout troops planned a big father-daughter dance, and I still remember my excitement at getting the chance to show my dad off to the other kids. I also remember my disappointment at having to share my dad’s time with my sister, who was also in my troop. My dad took the event as an opportunity to subtly teach my sister and me a life lesson — this time about sharing.


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Since then, my parents have divorced and the Navy transferred my dad four states away. But my dad, recognizing the importance of his role in our lives, made sure he was a constant presence. I recognize every year how lucky I am to have a dad who took such an active role in my life.

As June rolls around every year, we are all reminded to take a moment to say thanks for the fathers — and father figures — who have shaped our lives.

But not everyone is lucky enough to have their father positively shape their lives. Maybe he’s not around, or maybe he thinks the role of “father” doesn’t include spending time with his family.

No matter the cause, there are people in Suffolk working to strengthen the role of fathers in the community.

The Up Center, which responds to the needs of children, families and individuals in the area, offers free 12-week fatherhood programs. The Dads Make a Difference group aims to help fathers connect with their children, learn to communicate with mothers and gain a better perspective on their parenting skills. Classes are held at 6 p.m. Thursdays through July 26 and offer an excellent opportunity for dads to learn how to be better dads.

The Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority will also encourage fathers by taking part in a regional Father’s Day 2012 Initiative this week. The group will join others like it to distribute bookmarks and pens in an effort to encourage fathers and father figures to reconnect and stay connected with their families.

I’m grateful for the connection I have with my father. It has helped shape me into the person I am today, and every year I take the national reminder as an opportunity to tell him thanks.

To all the fathers and father figures who encourage young — and old — Suffolkians to lead better lives, thank you for all you do to help strengthen our community. Make Father’s Day an opportunity to reaffirm your connection to your family and treat yourself for all your hard work.