“Happy Father’s Day!” to you dad’s out there. God bless you for your hard work, dedication, and the silent support you provide for your wife and family. Sometimes, with tongue in cheek people like to wish me a “Happy Father’s Day!” too, and as a priest that is fine. Yet, as I reflect on this I realize that my role as a “Father” of a parish, in many ways is much easier than those of being a real dad. Sure, my work as a parish priest can and often does drain me. I usually don’t get enough sleep. I regularly spend 10-14 hours a day at work, and I have an endless list of meetings, but in many ways all that administration pales in comparison with the 24/7 job a dad has with his family.
Dads, you have the great and awesome responsibility of protecting their family, putting food on the table, paying the bills, constantly teaching your children, keeping some semblance of order in the house, working in partnership with your wife and yet still spending some quality time with each of your children. Every child is different and so is the way you need to parent them. The challenge for any dad (and mom) is to see those hidden differences and interests in their children and then to gently encourage them to develop and use these interests and gifts and talents in positive ways. It must bring a great deal of pride and joy to a father who sees his son or daughter excel in what they love to do most. Fathers, have the difficult task of both disciplining your children and yet ensuring they know they are loved. That’s a delicate balance I admire in anyone! I am constantly amazed at some father’s ability to be patient and forgiving of the mistakes of their child and yet continue to lovingly correct and persuade them to do what is right in stressful times at home. It’s takes a lot of help from the Holy Spirit to do that, and it’s something I am not sure I could do with the same amount of perseverance and ability you have!
Fathers, provide a unique role for their sons and daughters as they grow through the various stages of their life, one no mother can fulfill. For sons, I believe they look to their fathers for wisdom and guidance and the boundaries of behavior they need which ultimately show them what it means to grow up to be a responsible, strong, and yet gentle man. For this reason, dads, don’t be afraid to pass on your skills and knowledge! Although they may not look like they appreciate it or need it at the time, rest-assured they are watching and learning and listening carefully at your words and example on how to live. They look to you to help them make good choices, and on how to treat women (esp. your wife and their mother) with love and respect. So, share your hobbies and interests and wisdom with them. They need that!
For daughters, I believe they look to their dads for a source of security, protection, support and encouragement throughout their life. Daughters often look at the qualities of their dads as an example of what kind of person they would one day like to marry. So, dads become the right man for them! John Mayer once wrote a song entitled: “Daughters” and in the lyrics it says: “Father’s be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do. Girls become lovers who turn into mothers. So, mothers be good to your daughters too.” Finally, from an article in the National Center for Fathering, there are seven things every daughter should hear from her dad: 1) You are beautiful. 2) I will always be here for you. 3) You can talk to me about anything. 4) I like spending time with you. 5) I am very proud of who you are. 6) Everything that I do, I do because I want the best for you. 7) I love you.
So, for all you dad’s out there who work tirelessly and often silently for your children and family, our prayers and support and appreciation are with you. Happy Father’s Day!