The role of a father exists in everyone’s life story. Fathers, present or not, known or not, give us some image of what it means to be a man, influence how we relate to men and what we may need from men. This is one of the powerful roles that shape our relationships and identities for the lifespan. All of us carry within us the mixture of blessings as well as any wounds of our experiences, or lack thereof, with our father or fathers. Being in such an important role is not easy. There is immense responsibility, sacrifice and not always recognition. I hope that we can provide some of that recognition this Father’s Day.
My father deserves recognition. He suffered with alcohol addiction throughout my childhood and that experience was an influence on me becoming a psychologist. In recent times, he has taught me a great deal about redemption. Through his own process of growth, he has provided a model that gives me a hopeful perspective for others. I’m thankful to have him as my father and to know that difficulties can be overcome and produce character that may not have otherwise been possible.
I am thankful that the role of father can be filled by many people in our life. On the one hand, this helps take some of the pressure off for fathers and, on the other, it provide a buffer for those who don’t have a father actively involved. I have a mentor who has played a fatherly role in my life and imparted me with a core value “all kids are our kids.” I have come to believe that doesn’t just mean literal kids, we all have a child inside of us that in many ways may need a father. That mentor has taught me through the course of our relationship which has spanned over a decade the central importance of responding to others needs for empathy and compassion. He deserves recognition for the impact that he has had on my life.
As I reflect on my experience as a father, I feel grateful to have had so many fatherly influences and have hope that my children will as well. Please join me in reaching out to those who have had a fatherly impact on your life and provide them with much needed recognition.