There are four of them and I can’t seem to get away. Backing away slowly or making a mad dash, it doesn’t matter. They always seem to find me.
Seriously though, being a dad is the greatest thing in the world. I just wish there were many more who felt the same way. If every father took his role seriously, there would not be a need for groups like 24:7 Dad, a program of the National Fatherhood Initiative, operated locally by Catholic Charities in Richmond.
Thank God there are groups like that, because fatherhood has never been under such fierce attack in America as it is right now. There are more men today who shirk their responsibility to their children than ever before. It’s a trend that must be reversed — now!
When I first became a father in August of 1992, I was still trying to figure out what it meant to be a man and a husband. I thought I was ready for fatherhood, but I was woefully unprepared. I had a baby girl and I was not ready for a baby or a girl. As the oldest of three boys, I never had a sister or any real experience living with the female of the species other than my mother and my wife.
I tried hard to be a good dad, but I was a workaholic who was rarely home and barely awake when I was. It took the end of that marriage for me to see that my work was nowhere near as important as my family. I fought hard to keep my daughter, and I won a few battles but ultimately lost the war. It was in that struggle that I finally learned what it meant to be a father and why fathers are so vital in a child’s life.
I became fully engaged in Promise Keepers and immersed myself in what it means to be a Godly man. I learned the importance of being a good husband and father. I learned that caring for your family is what truly makes a man a real man.
Then I met and married Sandy, who was a single mom raising a little boy. I did a stepparent adoption of Wesley, but my relationship with him was nothing like the one I had with Heather. Wesley pushed my buttons and challenged me at every turn. Sandy and I had very different children and different parenting styles. When Luke and then Colton came along we had to move from man-to-man to zone coverage. More than that, it put us on the same parenting playbook.
We now have two adult children, each living hundreds of miles away, just as we are from our parents. We still have two teenagers at home and despite all my knowledge, I still struggle to relate to them. They spend more time with their phones than they do me or Sandy, no matter how hard we try to put God and family first.
The point is, being a father – or a parent in general – is not easy. It takes hard work and commitment. Unfortunately, there are more fathers than not who won’t put forth the effort or make the commitment to be the dad they need to be. There are some who want to, but are blocked by the mother and/or the courts.
It doesn’t help that our culture frowns on fatherhood. The sexual revolution and women’s movements have empowered women with the myth that they can do it all without a man. Generations of men have grown up with little or no influence from their fathers and have no real role model for being a husband or a father.
The only example of fatherhood many young men see is what they are exposed to on TV. Most of those dads are cartoonish buffoons and those programs only reinforce the stereotype of the do-it-all mom. When you look at the huge imbalance of traditional male/female, mother/father and husband/wife roles, it’s no wonder we see a rise in the number of children with gender identity issues and men who are disconnected from their families and lacking the skills to form normal, healthy relationships.
We need men to rise up and be the husbands and fathers that their wives and children need and deserve. We need a society that values men and fathers again. If we really want to make America great again, let’s not worry about walls and politics; let’s make our families – the foundation of all society – great again.
So again I ask, who are these kids and why are they calling me Dad? They are my kids and I am their dad and I couldn’t be any prouder. Thank you Heather, Wesley, Luke and Colton for being such great kids! And thank you Sandy for being such a wonderful wife and mother. Our family – it’s what we do together!