I hope the dads among us all had a happy Father’s Day on Sunday. Too often in our society, fathers, just as much as mothers, are under appreciated.
We expect a lot from fathers. Some of these expectations hark back to the days when a woman married a man based on his ability to provide basic needs and protection for her and the children she would bear him. In those days the man was the undisputed king of his home, not just by tradition, but by law. As much as we woman chafe at that concept in today’s modern times, historically speaking, it really was the way society was organized to provide for the survival of the species.
In today’s world, we haven’t lost all of those old expectations, no matter what we would like to believe. In fact, not only have we kept several of those prerequisites as a society, we’ve added new ones, too, because what is “expected” has changed over time. The combination of the two, in my opinion, make the job of being a father a lot more difficult than it ever used to be.
Even in this enlightened age, we still mostly expect fathers to be the main breadwinners of the family. Women work outside the home, of course they do. They are equal home-owners and decision makers by today’s standards. Yet still, women consider the question, when they become mothers, of whether to go back to work after the maternity leave has ended, or to give up the job and be a stay at home mom, at least until the children go to school. There’s no right answer to that question, as women are individuals with individual aspirations. But we women all do think over which option is best for us.
By and large, the fathers aren’t given that choice at all. They are expected to continue to work, no matter what.
We expect fathers to protect our children from harm, even though that expectation, in today’s world, isn’t always realistic. Neither are fathers allowed the same tools they once had to ensure the safety of their families. There are no more castles, or moats; fathers may no longer lock their children in their rooms to keep the dangerous elements of society away from them. In an age when children are seeking and being granted rights that quite frankly they are sometimes far too young to truly understand, we have made the father’s job of protecting his family very difficult.
And yet despite all these things, today’s father has adapted. You don’t see fathers with picket signs bemoaning how hard it is to do what we ask of them. You see them, instead, coaching baseball and soccer for their sons and their daughters. You see them driving kids to games and lessons, playing at the park with their children, sitting at the kitchen table helping their kids with math, or science projects. You see today’s fathers being an integral part of their children’s lives.
Fathers take an active interest in their children’s educations, teach them how to drive, fix broken toys and sometimes, do their best to patch up broken dreams. Fathers are there in the night when the bogey man is near, and they lend a solid shoulder to cry on when the tough stuff of life hits.
They never stop being fathers, either. When their children are grown and have children of their own, they are still there, with advice and a hug, stalwart in their role.
Mothers are good at nurturing in a gentle way. Fathers are good at setting the limits, and loving you even when you overstep those bounds.
So fathers, here’s to you, and the countless selfless acts you perform for you families, doing what you do because it’s the right thing to do—and not ever once considering doing it any other way.
You’ll say that’s nothing special. But the rest if us know, that’s what being a hero is all about.