This week's Lesson #148 in our Learning Life's Lesson's series represents the THIRD Father's Day celebration since the inception of this series on August 22nd 2004. During the last 148 weeks, lots of Lessons have been discussed regarding all facets of life. And once again I would like to delve into the importance of fatherhood and the challenges that caring fathers face today.
Unlike one's titles in their occupation; group; organization; or political affiliation that can change at will - the title of FATHER lasts a lifetime. Along with that title of father comes a lifetime of responsibilities for any father that truly cares about their children.
Recently we watched daily coverage on TV regarding the paternity case involving Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead. There was tremendous media coverage as the two struggled in the courts to declare who was the father of Danielynn, the child of the deceased Anna Nicole Smith. Stern did everything possible to avoid bringing DNA tests into the contest, but unfortunately had to adhere to court's orders. In the end, the DNA tests proved Larry Birkhead as the winner as he won the battle of custody and the title of FATHER of Danielynn.
Fame and fortune was at stake in being crowned father of Danielynn, and you can't help but wonder now how diligent Larry Birkhead will be, as a newly crowned father for the rest of his life. I recently saw him being interviewed on TV and he was asked what it was like being a father. He said he has obtained help raising Danielynn, however he will be available to her 24/7 if needed. He seemed a little run down and not quite as enthusiastic or energetic about fatherhood as he was during the court case. Regardless of the fame and fortune he obtained with his title of FATHER, we can only hope he will live up to the lifetime responsibilities of that important title.
Fatherhood has many challenges that few new fathers are prepared for. The dynamics of one's life changes immediately for newly minted fathers as well as mothers of course. Lots of sacrifices must be made by diligent fathers. It's a father's duty to always put their young child's well being before their own, and to help their children grow into mature, competent, responsible adults.
One of the toughest stages of fatherhood seems to begin when your kids become teenagers. Once a teenager, it appears that the dynamics of the generation gap moves into full motion between fathers and their children. This generation gap always existed throughout history, however it appears even more prevalent today as tween's (9-12 years old), teens (13-19) and adult children (20-?) obtain more of their values, morals, and ideas about living through TV, print media, the Internet and their teachers. In many cases, whatever values you try to instill into your children as they are growing up, can get distorted and changed by their daily exposure to the world. Today it's more prevalent than ever that exposure to the personal views of teachers in high school and professors in college can be quite toxic. Parents work extra hours, work second jobs, and obtain student loans to send their kids to expensive colleges, and must hope and pray that their children's exposure to nutty professors is minimal.
I can remember growing up in the 50's when a father in a family was truly a patriarch. Whether it was right, wrong or antiquated compared to today's lifestyles, there was an unconditional respect for one's father. And one's grandfather's held even a higher place in the family hierarchy. A generation gap easily occurs between each generation of fathers and children, as times and rules of family engagement undergo constant change. The behavior that was expected of you as a child is no longer as relevant in the present day for your children. The challenge of fathers to deal with these changes requires lots of patience, ongoing compromises, and adaptations of your own behavior to deal with a constantly changing world.
Fatherhood is far from an exact science. Instead I believe a father's role must be to find the correct balance of understanding your children as you adapt to an ever changing world; without totally compromising the values you hold deep in your heart. In the process, a caring father needs to be a good role model and display sincere love to their children through their actions. Fathers need to steer their children to make good choices as opposed to demand how they should live their lives. Also in the process, a father cannot lose touch with the importance of their own life and well being, since they cannot be responsible for all of the actions of their children forever.
The dividends of fatherhood begin when children take total responsibility for their own lives and actions and live as happy, healthy, mature adults. The second wave of dividends begins when you see your own children raise their own family and practice some of the values you taught them. Now that's when life can't get any better! Happy Father's Day!