By any means necessary, be a father to your child - Michael O’Neal, Father’s Inc.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Real Men are Fathers
Just as we set aside a day for mothers, so too do we for fathers. I usually like to write something special for these occasions, but this time, I’m going to write something much more personal as a man that is a father...and grew up without one.
I consider myself to be fairly intelligent and although I understand much in life, I will never understand the heart and mind of a man that has no desire to take care of his children. It’s almost akin to a man not taking care of himself, since his children are an extension of him...almost. It’s worse, since the children are not on this planet by their own choice but the choice, in part, of the absent father. As the saying goes “Any man can make children, but only a real man can be a father.” Taking care of a child has, unfortunately, be reduced to financial obligations. There is much more to a child’s well being than just the financial obligation. If a man is able to share the most precious commodity any of us have, then I think he should. The money is important...but is no substitute for time.
There are many issues that occur in relationships and while the details are important, to a small child, they really aren’t. I was that child growing up with an absent father. Looking at other children with two parent families, I wondered who my father was and where he could be, all the while shying away from the fathers of my friends because of an uncomfortableness I developed never having grown up around a man. It was my best friends father that told me to always look a person in the eye and shake an extended hand with a firm grip. I would get many such lessons from the fathers of my closest friends that took it upon themselves to impart some of the lessons they were teaching their own sons, as fathers do, because I had no such teacher. I will always be grateful for the compassion of the Laines and Climers...families that took me in as their own.
Responsibility was an ongoing lesson my mother taught me, so it was with no hesitation at all, that I answered a poignant question posed to me in my youth by a host of the show “60 Minutes” about my participation in the Young Father’s Program, later to become Father’s Inc. I was asked, as an inference, if without the program I would not be a father. My answer was quick, decisive and shocking to what they were expecting to hear. I enjoyed the program and got much from it, but I was committed to my responsibility of fatherhood from the moment my wife (then girlfriend) informed me of her pregnancy, and I was not going to allow any child of mine to experience the vacuum an absent father creates. Without the program, I was going to be a father to my child. As fate would have it, the night that episode aired...my father was watching.
I didn’t meet my father until I was in my mid twenties and didn’t develop a relationship with him until after that. My late mother said that he was much like me and that I would like him...and she was right. He is more active now with his grandchildren than he ever was with me, and that’s a good thing. I believe there is always an upside, and in this situation that upside is that my father wasn’t absent for my entire life...and his absence drove me to seek out and connect myself and children to the rest of our family.
That’s my story, but I realize that Father’s Day holds a different story for everyone. Many people have been blessed to always have had the love and guidance of a father. I wish I could write something meaningful along those lines as I did for mothers on Mother’s Day, but I can only write what I know. I know being a father brings me joy. I know it was the best decision I ever made to make sure respectful and responsible children become productive adults filled with love and compassion...and strength of character. I know that my purpose is derived from their needs and that I can have no greater accomplishment in life. I know that if they choose to have children and pass on everything that I have learned, I have been and they have become...that my blessing has truly taken root and the fruit of it will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Happy Father’s Day