Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dad's Day

Do you know how many dads there are in the world? I don’t.

Let’s see… Suppose the “average family” in the world consists of a mom, a dad and… say… five children. (Is this the world’s average? I have no idea.) If so, then dad’s make up one-seventh of the population. However, some dads have children that are dads, too. So, I’ll venture to make a scientific guess that dads make up as high as 15% of the world’s population. If so, then there are roughly, approximately, about 700 million dads in the world.

I don’t know most of them.

I know one of them really well… that’s my dad. The other dad I’m getting to know is myself. And sprinkled about my acquaintances are a number of dads I’ve gotten to know over the years. Still nowhere close to 700 million, though.

So, what do I really know about dads? What could I possibly say that would generalize “what dads are like”? I’ll give it another scientific try:

Dads think they’re not good. Or, not good enough.

Why would dads think like that? Two reasons, really.

One is that dads are always trying to be better dads. They never settle. They work very hard. They want to achieve for their family. They want to provide for their children. They don’t want to see their children suffer, go without or be hindered in any way because their dads were too lazy or incapable of providing what a child needs.

And how much is enough? How good is good enough? Well, do you mean, for my kid? My kid is much better than me. That means all I could provide is never good enough for my wonderful kid.

The other reason that dads think they’re not good is because that is what we tell our dads. Our dads are “Superman!” when we’re young. Then we grow up and learn they are not really Superman. They’re just dad. And if they do one thing to hurt us (which every dad does because no dad is Superman), boy does it hurt! It hurts so bad that we blame them. We tell them what a bad dad they are. We don’t care what they’ve done or sacrificed for us…. Why didn’t they do ______ instead?

And there is probably nothing that hurts a dad more than to hear their child tell them how bad they are. After they’ve worked so much… After they’ve tried so hard…

Our society also gangs up on dads. While moms are the gentle, pie-baking, tear-wiping, encouraging-words-speaking, servant-hearted kissers of all boo-boos; dads are absent, workaholic, angry, over-protective jerks. How many Mother’s Day sermons have you heard extolling the qualities of our wonderful mothers, and how many Father’s Day sermons have you heard telling dads that they better shape up and do better?

I remember my dad going to church with me for a Christmas Eve service. He hadn’t been in a long, long time. And he felt uncomfortable there. So do many people. As we mingled with some of the church’s greeters at the door and chit-chatted, one of the men said to my dad, “Good to see you here.” My dad replied, “Well, the walls just might crumble in.” Surely a holy place like a church would crumble upon the presence of such a bad man!

My dad has gotten the message: He’s bad. Perhaps it was me or my siblings telling him that somehow. Perhaps it was society that got the message through to him. Perhaps it was just him thinking so lowly of himself that he expected others to do so, too. Maybe a combination of all of the above. Dad even rhymes with bad. Bad dad.

Perhaps, instead of “Father’s Day” they should change the name to “Give Dad A Break For Once, Day.” Give him a break from all the negativity. Give him a break from all the high expectations. Give him a break from the bitterness borne from unhealed dad-pain. Give him a break from never getting a break. Forgive him for not being Superman. See in him the goodness there is. See his heart. See that, even though he never knew how to express it very well—he loved you.

Thank you for being my dad, Dad. I’m proud to be your son. I just have one thing to say to you:

You’re good.

1 comment:

  1. Two things I can count on in life:

    1) Mother's Day Sunday at church will be all about how great mothers are.

    2) Father's Day will be all about how much men need to do better.

    (Except for our church, we decided not to do that.)