A day for our dads

Opinion – Faith in Waipā – By Murray Smith – Senior Leader, Bridges Church.

This weekend it’s Father’s Day.

Come Sunday morning, fathers up and down the nation will be feted on centre stage for a brief moment. Breakfast in bed might be a standard staple for a few pampered papas…for others receiving a phone call from afar (or nearby), might have to suffice. Perhaps a visit, maybe a little gift or token of appreciation could be in the pipeline for other doted upon Dad’s.

Going by the advertising for Father’s Day, I imagine it provides retailers, service providers and suppliers with a boost in turnover, as gifts are purchased, cards are sold, and coffee bars or eateries are patronised.

The commercialism of Father’s Day could obscure the simple point of what is actually being observed. It’s a marker – a pause where families, sons and daughters can reflect on the Dad -or Dad ‘figure’ in their lives…and remember.

The polarising truth is that some will remember with a great deal of fondness and thankfulness. Delight and gratitude may abound, while others will reflect a bit more ruefully, finding scant cause for celebration and little to honour…

Whether present, absent or passed away, everyone’s ‘Dad experience’ will vary.

Some will relate joy-filled, nurturing and loving, supportive fatherly encouragement. Other’s accounts will be of a Dad present in a physical sense but absent for all intents and purposes at an emotional level… those who provided decently and adequately in practical terms yet fell from the task of really being ‘there’ in ways that count. It is troubling how many people’s ‘Dad stories’ mostly conjure up deep feelings of pain, loss and rejection within them. Sadly, many kids growing up, have fathers who never learned any sense of responsibility, instead they habitually inject selfish destructive influences into family life… that’s a continuing and concerning reality commonly seen among our communities. Having the biological capability to produce children does not make a male – a real father.

Our culture reflects “fatherlessness” stemming from broken Dads passing on their pain and hurt to sons (and daughters) who in turn become vulnerable and susceptible to unconsciously reproducing the flawed, inadequate modelling they experienced, in the lives of their own children. It’s a cycle that is proven to perpetuate.

It raises the question: how can we change this? Models of what good Dads look like are necessary in order to cut a new groove. Qualities and attributes needing expression would be showing genuine care-filled ‘thereness’ and providing nurture at every level…providing an inspiring example of character, providing opportunity for building confidence and personal value in kids’ lives, setting boundaries, correcting when needed with loving discipline to protect children from making poor decisions…not being distracted and overly busy with a life crammed with so many things that kids end up neglected…

Speaking of neglecting things…since none of us Dads are perfect fathers and deep inside none of us wants to fail as a Dad, we could all do with some help. God’s help…

Think about that one – it’s crucially needed and freely available.

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