It’s hard to find words to express all the feelings I feel this coming father’s day weekend. I’m so grateful. Grateful to have a husband who is a wonderful father, who is so good with our boys, demonstrating his love for them so beautifully. He shows them what a man should look and be like, he gives them an example of what a strong husband who deeply loves (and always teases) his wife looks like. And our oldest son loves watching his example! I couldn’t be more elated with this man I chose, Father’s Day for me means honoring him and all he does for us, honoring the man and father I’ve watched him become throughout the years we’ve been married.
I feel grateful that I had an amazing dad growing up who is still here to offer me help and guidance as he watches me being a mom to my kids. He reminds me of what’s really important in life (not always cleaning), is always there to talk about anything on my mind, and constantly lets my older son feel like a hero at their house (and not eat any vegetables!).
But I also feel deep sadness for our society, because I understand that for many people – both men and women – father’s day is becoming increasingly painful or even meaningless.
We are in the midst of what I’d call a Fatherhood Crisis. You see it everywhere when you see children in school with learning disabilities or with deep emotional wounds stemming from divorce, or men who are emotionally shattered because they aren’t allowed to see or have a relationship with their kids because of a vindictive ex-wife. We see it when we hear of men who lose that critical role of father because they aren’t in the house anymore, they still see their kids and have a relationship but their impact has been significantly reduced as their role has been replaced when their ex-wife picked a “new dad” to impact his kids in ways he may not like or agree with. We see it when we realize just how many kids are growing up without a father in the home at all, and the astronomical tie to future drug use, alcohol, sex, and involvement in crime that accompanies that fatherlessness.
We see it when we wonder what to do about Hook-Up culture, when we realize just how depraved our youth and singles are becoming. We see it when we see mentally ill mass shooters in the news, many of whom had no positive male role model in their lives to show them real masculinity. We see it when we see the degradation of a society who has never been taught to respect authority, or who believe rioting and looting is an acceptable means of venting black youth’s anger, a race that has long had a massive fatherhood crisis.
Fathers are immensely important to society, and the wounds that are left when they are violent or absent simply do not heal if left to fester on their own. My own dad was great growing up, but he was never perfect. He often had moments of wonderful strength, wisdom or guidance to give me – and there was never any doubt he believed in me and thought I was beautiful, but he still made typical mistakes as any human parent does. It’s tragic to me, however, that not everyone grew up with a loving, strong, gentle, encouraging dad. The places where my dad failed were very minor, however, they still left wounds that needed to be healed by my Father in order for me to become the woman I am today.
Only God is the perfect father. Only He can heal the wounds we receive in our lifetime, and only He can make you whole.
I was reading an article in Women’s Health magazine a few weeks ago that was about the wounds a daughter feels when her father is missing in her life. The article gave 4 different types of dad-wounds with a solution at the end of “How to Heal.” It covered the emotionally distant dad, being abandoned by your dad, having a dad that was a sperm donor, and having a dad who died. The most interesting thing about this article was reading the effects of having these kinds of fathers left on their daughters, deep wounds that impacted them well into adulthood. Here are some interesting quotes to reflect on this Father’s Day,
Fathers who are emotionally distant (or not there for other reasons such as divorce, estrangement, etc.):
“Per a 2012 study, daughters of detached dads reported lower self-esteem than women who grew up with engaged and accessible males.”
Fathers who abandon their families or who aren’t there for their daughters for other reasons:
“Plenty of research shows that girls whose fathers leave the family are more likely to lose their virginity earlier (as young as 15, according to one study) than those with a pops who’s present. Those daughters are often not emotionally mature enough for the act, and they can find it harder to trust men, explains Linda Nielsen, Ph.D., a professor of educational and adolescent psychology at Wake Forrest University and aughter of Between Fathers and Daughters.”
The effects of having a Sperm Donor for a father:
“It’s telling that she broke down when her donor father called her beautiful,” … “That’s what a woman wants to hear from her dad – that she’s special, beloved, praised.” Jennifer clearly lacked paternal love and affection during her childhood, and she also had no role model for manhood. “That makes it hard to distinguish between different kinds of men and recognize a nurturing partner.”
“A study in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility found that three-quarters of donor-sperm children want to meet or develop a connection with their donor father, but the majority would not consider having children of their own using donor sperm. They’re well aware of what their own kids could be missing out on.”
Positive Effects of a Father in a Woman’s Life:
“BODY IMAGE: A January 2015 study found that daughters who had caring and friendly relationships with their fathers frequently had healthier views about food and better body confidence – making them less likely to suffer from eating disorders – than those who had less kind and more overbearing dads.
SOCIAL LIFE: Girls who enjoyed positive and “warm” interactions with their papas during playtime as kids were more apt to develop strong interpersonal skills, according to a study in the journal Fathering. This may be because dads who regulate their child’s excitement levels in a sensitive (as opposed to harsh) way are teaching their children empathy and reciprocity.
INTELLIGENCE: Doing mentally stimulating activities with daddy during childhood – reading, going to museums, playing games – is linked to having a higher IQ at age 11, and still at age 42, per research published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. During these brain-building moments, dads can share what they know with their kids, making them smarter in the long run.”