June 19, 2011

Becoming a Father

It is much easier to become a father than to be one.  ~Kent Nerburn, Letters to My Son: Reflections on Becoming a Man, 1994

It's a beautiful Sunday morning in western Tennessee although it promises to be another exceptionally hot day before it is all over.  Not only is it Father's Day but June 19th also marks the observation of "Juneteenth."  Tennessee State University opened its doors 99 years ago; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed; Phylicia Rashad was born as well as Addison Scurlock. Whew! And that's only the tip of the iceberg as far as things, events, etc., which we celebrate on this day.

To all the fathers out there, here's hoping that you receive your due. Whatever that may be. Hopefully, it will be filled with sincere platitudes, celebrations--big and small, and lots of joy. And for those who carry the title but not the responsibilities, here's hoping that at some point, you will understand and grow into the role.

See, being a father is more than being a sperm donor or giving a child your last name.  It is more than sending a child support check or being in the home but not in the home. And, it is certainly not about how many children you can boast about having fathered.  Remember the young man I wrote about with 14 children? King Sobhuza II of Swaziland (1899-1982) reportedly had 70 wives and 210 children. Celebrities have made it a habit of leaving babies all over the place:  Ray Lewis; Calvin Murphy; Marshall Faulk; Evander Holyfield; et al.  PLEASE!

And while we admire their being gifted..."can he play/sing/act/dance, or what?"...does that translate into their being a good role model for their offspring?  Loving, caring, respected?  Or...are they just following the footsteps of those before them?  The National Fatherhood Initiative, along with other mentoring organizations, churches, etc., are striving to teach our fathers and children lessons that should be learned at a father's knee or to fill the gap left by  fathers who are missing in the home, for whatever reason.

There are too many horrific stories about child abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, murder, etc., and it crosses all racial and economic  lines. A recent trial in Memphis highlighted a man who repeatedly had sex with his 12-year-old daughter and forced her to help him dismember the mother's body.  But this is just one of the many sensational stories to hit the news.  (I'm only dealing with fathers today; bad mothers are another topic.)

How about the stories that don't make the papers?  The ones about "good" fathers?  We can all pay tribute to or recount instances where fathers are giving their all to the well-being of their children. To those of you who fit the bill, I tip my hat.

Happy Father's Day.  Stay safe. Be Blessed.

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