For many years Father’s Day was a non-event for me. My dad died when I was seven, so by the time I was old enough to be aware of a special day that didn’t include presents for me, there was no one around to celebrate (until I got old enough to send cards to my grandfather). I would like to have known my dad when I was older, but that’s the way things go. I remember good things about him, and some less pleasant things, but they are all from a small child’s perspective. Unfortunately this was back in the era when fathers went out and earned money, and didn’t spend quite as much time with their kids. I know he cared about me, and that I gave him a chance to express his tender side, but sometimes he just didn’t know how to act with a child. The thing I most often heard him say was my mother’s name, and then “…do you see what she’s doing?” 🙂 It usually meant he didn’t approve of whatever it was, but didn’t know what to do about it.
Fortunately, as I got older I had some wonderful people to watch as they became fathers. I’m thinking now of my ex, my husband, and my son. All three of them are very good fathers, and two are very good grandfathers. The first thing I appreciated is their patience — that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes get frustrated, but all three are very patient with children and with explaining things at the child’s level. (Which made me realize my father hadn’t been very patient with me.) Also, all three are very good at remembering what it is like to be a child — they still have a sense of playfulness, which makes them more fun to be around no matter what your age.
I have read that while mothers affect how we feel about ourselves, fathers affect how we relate to the world around us. This is a generalization, and as such is not always applicable to each person, but tends to be so for most people. Within this generalization, that means fathers affect whether a child sees the world as a friendly place, or a stern place with rules, or an adventure, or a place to dominate, or a place where we help others, or a scary place where you always have to be on guard, . . . you get the picture. Last month I wrote an entry about Mother’s Day ( https://judithornot.wordpress.com/2007/05/14/the-dark-side-of-mothers-day ), and many of the same ideas go for Father’s Day. Those of us who knew our fathers or who had close father-figures may have wonderful memories, or memories we’d rather forget, or a mixed bag. We may or may not be dealing with those emotions, but we need to be aware those experiences probably color the way we deal with the world around us. What we are aware of, we are able to change (if we want to).
Am writing this today to thank those good fathers. To encourage all those potential father-figures out there to be aware how important you may be in a child’s life. And to offer hope to those whose experiences were not good. Remember — our histories have affected who we are, but we can recreate who we are and how we relate to those around us.