Fatherhood still important

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

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“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

That quote has been attributed, almost certainly in error, to Mark Twain over the years, but it speaks aptly to the begrudging respect earned by fathers, who get their annual day in the spotlight this weekend.

If anything, fatherhood has fallen even further out of fashion in this age of society’s hyperfocus on gender identity, “personhood” and other symbols of modern enlightenment. Call us old-fashioned, but we’re still big believers in the importance of a father’s role in the nuclear family and the benefits to a child of having a dad who takes his responsibilities seriously.

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Dr. Glenn Mollette, one of our favorite newspaper columnists, wrote eloquently this week about the impact of fathers and the challenges of being a good one.

“Fathers, like most all people, have good days and bad days,” he wrote. “They have great seasons of life and some that are more difficult. Few fathers will look back over their lives and say, ‘Every day I was a perfect dad.’ Some days were better than others.

“Even in a home filled with love and patience the average dad lives a juggling life. He is pulled between work, kids’ ballgames, meeting the needs of his wife and housework. Add to this school meetings, homework, fishing, piano lessons, family events, all while trying to maintain and add to his career.

“The only season of being a father that you have is this one. No future is guaranteed and yesterday is gone. You do have today. Have a loving and forgiving heart. Extend grace and a second, third or fourth chance. Try to spend time with those you love. You are probably finding out now that your grown children are too busy for you. They have lives of their own and you may not be a priority. It hurts some, but they probably are being like you used to be. Don’t lose sleep over this, but be available and reach out as you are able.

“Finally, you have to be more than the human ATM machine. You can’t buy your children’s affection for the rest of your life. Every parent wants to help their children but the best thing you can do for them is work with them to help them care for themselves. You can either teach them to fish or spend the rest of your life fishing for them and this ends up being a hard life for you and cripples them.

“Today is another opportunity to be a good father. This is also a good day for you to reciprocate love and affection to your dad. A father and a child working together can make a great family.”

To the many dads of Suffolk who are making a difference in the lives of their children, we tip our hats this Father’s Day.