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Dads get little respect today. The foolish father is a stock element in sitcoms, the government treats fathers like the disposable element in families, even as dangerous. Your male buddies, especially the unmarried ones, razz you: you are no longer a free man, they say, you are tied down for the next twenty years, they say.
Yet, dads are vital. Boys need men around to grow into men. There is a difference between a man who knows how to use his strength to protect others and one that knows how to use it only to get what they want. It is the difference between a wolf and a guard dog. The example set by an engaged, caring father is the best way for a boy to learn what it is.
Daughters, too, learn from the example set by their father. A girl without a father often grows up never learning what a good husband is. They often never learn how to relate properly to men unless they have a non-predatory adult male (that’s you, dad) in their lives when they were growing up.
Dads rarely get compliments from their kids, and often get static. That is because dad has a different role than mom. Fall off your bike and skin your knee. Mom kisses it and holds you until you feel better. Dad slaps a bandage on the scrape and tells you to get back on the bike.
Mom provides the family mercy. Dad provides the family justice. “Just wait until your father gets home!” Everyone is wary around the judge.
Mom’s love and admiration is unconditional. Dad’s love is unconditional, too, but you must earn dad’s respect. Children strive for that respect as they are growing up and after they grow up.
You get a raise and promotion. You win an award or get a book published. You call up the folks to let them know. You tell mom because it will please her. You tell dad to earn his approval. The world is a little better, every time children achieve meaningful accomplishments to earn dad’s approval.
Dad is the one the kids come to for help and advice. Dad has the answers. As long as my dad was alive, I still called my dad for advice – because he still had answers. As for my kids?
A few years back, when I was still in my 50s, my youngest was working on his Eagle Scout project – shelving for a library. He and older brother (then college age) pick up a pallet of material delivered to the library. They need to take it to granddad’s home wood shop. They have the family van.
The pallet weighs 420 pounds. After ninety minutes of futile effort, they call dad at work. “Can you help?” Dad takes personal time and drives down to the library. When he arrives, dad assesses the situation.
Fifteen minutes later, with no other tools than the muscles of an out-of-shape fifty-something male and two young adults, the pallet is in the van. Dad knew how. That’s what makes dads hot.
Happy father’s day, dads.