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We All Need A Father Figure To Lean On
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Life which is soon past, only what’s done with love will last.'
When I think of the ultimate father figure I think of the extraordinary paternal love and devotion of the Biblical King David for his son Absalom even when his son turned against him and attempted to kill him. As eloquently expressed by King David, when he wept over the death of his son, “Absalom, my dear son, oh how I wish I could trade places with you!”
Practically in all human affairs, and even in organized religion where God is viewed and revered as the ultimate father figure, fathers have played a central role in the drama of our lives. With a clearly defined role as the bread winner, the disciplinarian, the ultimate family authority, there was no doubt that fathers were the kings of their own castles and therefore demanded respect. Interestingly, of all the Ten Commandments, the one commandment that is emphasized the most is “Honor thy father and mother,” and not so much out of a sense of sentimentality, but rather necessity. It was based on the recognition of the major role that parents played in the child’s life and the life- long impact on shaping their life and influencing the choices they made not to mention their relationship with people particularly with the opposite sex.
Fathers were traditionally regarded as pillars of strength which provided the safety net to support and preserve the family unit. But those days of taking the time to mentor an offspring as a way of preparing children for the real world, are long gone. Instead, the role of the emerging father figure has almost been reduced to “a human ATM.” That’s because in a “more is better” culture, where the focus has shifted from wholesome values such as family and community to the pursuit of material success, the result is invariably an erosion of morality, growing social ills and the break down of the family system. Take for example the phenomenon of the growing senseless violence in our schools and on our streets (or the growing teenage suicide). It’s symptomatic of the vacuum created in our children when the two most important people in their lives (mom and dad) get divorced and/or when they are left home alone growing up with either the TV or their peers or gangs, and without a father figure in particular. In essence, it’s a cry for help, for love, for direction of how to survive and thrive in the jungles of life from someone they can lean on and look up to. They are looking for someone who is committed to giving them roots to grow and wings to fly and never desert them no matter what. In other words, it’s a cry for a true father figure, the ultimate role model.
Contrary to popular belief, what children need the most (but get the least) is not material gifts but rather something far more precious – something that many parents simply are either unaware of or are too drained both physically and mentally to give, namely, the gift of time and mentoring. But whether the newly evolved father figure is the “quiet storm” type or not, is not that important. What’s really important is the valuable contribution that fathers make to our lives which cannot and should not be ignored. They deserve a special place in our hearts with deep respect and true appreciation for helping shape our lives, keeping us grounded and centered and by adding another dimension to our lives. In short, good fathers make us feel whole.
It seems like no matter how old, independent and/or successful we get, the need for a father figure to lean on, especially during challenging times, continues to intensify. Perhaps it’s a built- in divine thing to remind us of the ultimate father figure that is never subject to change and is always there for us with infinite love and patience, guidance, and forgiveness – who is simply known as God. All we have to do is recognize it and appreciate the many contributions He has made to our lives just like our earthly fathers.
And since a gene for being a good father hasn’t been discovered yet and there is no known User’s Manual for how to become a good father – being a good father is simply a matter of skill and an art form that can actually be learned. All it takes is only a lifetime of dedication and commitment and a lot of practice with infinite willingness to forgive not just your child but yourself for “dropping the ball” now and then. Indeed, being a father figure comes with great responsibility and commitment. However, it is the matching rewards, like no other, that makes it all worthwhile. After all, what could be sweeter than hearing the words: “Dad, you are my hero!”
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