Happy Father's Day!
(This post is specially dedicated to my own dad, David L. Hudson, Sr., the best father a son could ever have.)
On this Father’s Day of 2009, I wanted to make sure I fully understood what a father is. I’m 20, and I’m going into my last year of college. I should probably know what it takes to be a father. (Even though I’m not even trying to think about having kids anytime soon.)
So I went to the dictionary. According to Merriam-Webster, here’s what it means to be a father:
fa•ther: n., a man who has begotten a child
Okay, now wait… that can’t be all there is to it, right? All I have to do to be a father is have a kid? I mean, I guess technically that’s what it means. But I know a lot of men that don’t have any children of their own, but have definitely served as fathers to others.
So what is it that really makes a man a father?
When I really start to think about it, there’s so much that goes into being a real father that I couldn’t even try to cover it all in one blog post. But there a few main points that I have to list. And hopefully that sheds some light on what it really means to be a father.
So let’s begin.
1. A father takes care of his children.
This should be an obvious point. But let’s face it… all too often, “fathers” don’t do this simple task. (And yes, I used those quotation marks for a reason.) When I say simple, however, I don’t mean easy. Because it’s definitely no easy task to take care of kids.
And many “fathers” can’t stand up to the task. Especially in the Black community. According to recent statistics, roughly 50% of Black children in the U.S. are raised by single mothers. 50%. Half. So, basically, in the Black community, it’s as likely for a child to be raised without a father as it is to flip a coin and have it come up tails.
That’s frightening to me. Because, no offense to my mother, but there is so much that my dad contributed to my life, to the point where I can’t even think about how I would be without having had him in the house growing up. I mean, I might have a skinny 6’0″ frame, but I feel like I’ve grown into a very strong young man–emotionally, mentally, and spiritually–largely in part to my dad’s care. Without his presence, though… I just don’t know.
But let’s continue.
2. A father trains his children in the way that they should go.
Another reason why the father is crucial is because he, along with the mother, should teach his children how to act and how to live. Whenever you’re placed in a new environment, the best way to learn how to adapt to that environment is by learning from someone who’s familiar with that environment. So when a child is born into the environment of life, he/she needs to learn how to adapt by learning from someone who’s familiar with life.
And that’s where parents (plural) come in. A single mother can train a child, but it undoubtedly helps the child to see both a man and a woman living the right way, especially in interaction with one another as husband and wife. And from the male perspective, how will a young boy know how to be a good husband and father when he grows up if he doesn’t have a good example for it in the home? …good question, right?
But even when there is a father in the home to train his kids in the way that they should go, kids don’t always obey the rules. So what’s a father to do then?
3. A father disciplines his children.
I can’t speak from the father’s perspective, but from the son’s side, I know that I’ve given my dad a fair amount of trouble over the last 20 years. I mean, I’d like to think that I’ve been a fairly good son, but no one’s perfect, including myself.
Either way, whenever I messed up, I could count on my dad to discipline me. His discipline may have seemed harsh at the time, but as I’ve gotten older, I can see that he only did it for my protection.
Now again, no offense to my mother. But I’ve always been more fearful of my dad’s discipline than my mom’s… even as a 20-year-old. There’s just something about a father, at least from my own experience, that is more emphatic and commanding. If I mess up and my mom says something about it, I’ll debate with her as much as I humanly can. But if my dad says something about it, I don’t even try to argue with him. I might catch an attitude sometimes, but I wouldn’t dare backtalk my dad. But just imagine if I didn’t have him there to discipline me…
Fortunately, there are many men that act as fathers for children that don’t have their own fathers in the home. And that’s excellent. But that doesn’t completely fix the problem.
Here’s an example. In my high school, I was blessed to have very knowledgeable and intelligent teachers. Every once in a while, though, they couldn’t make it to class because of illness or doctor’s appointments, or whatever. And that’s when they called in a substitute teacher.
Now the substitute would take care of us during the regular teacher’s day out, watching us for the class period, maybe showing us movies about what we had been learning, answering a few questions here and there. But it just wasn’t the same as having the actual teacher in the classroom.
And that’s the same way it is when the real father isn’t in the home. Other “father figures” can do a great job of looking out for these kids, but it’s just not the same.
But I can only grasp this concept so much, because my father was in the home, and did everything that a good father should do. Not to say he was perfect… because, as we’ve already said, no one’s perfect. But he covered all of the basics of fatherhood, and went above and beyond what was expected. He gave me the example of a loving, caring, disciplined, hard-working, strong, Godly man. (I could think of many, many more adjectives, but I probably have a character limit on this blog post.)
So, today, as with every other day of the year, I have to say that I am extremely grateful to have the father that I do. I couldn’t ask for anyone better.
Happy Father‘s Day, Dad.
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