Fatherhood is a noble calling, and devoted fathers deserve to be honored and thanked every day of the year. We just celebrated a day dedicated to the love, hard work, and sacrifice required of men willing to take on the responsibilities of raising families.
Sadly, many American children today do not have fathers in their homes. Many do not have, and have never had, a father in their lives. Many children have no one for whom to make a homemade card shaped like a tie or a golf club. Too many children cannot sit on their fathers’ laps and say, “Happy Father’s Day! I love you, Daddy!”
Fathers matter in ways that are measurable and concrete. We can observe the tragedy of many children (though, of course, not all) from fatherless homes. We can measure higher rates of illegal drug use, poverty, and crime among those raised without fathers. We can see higher percentages of high school and college degrees, more successful careers, and greater likelihood of success in marriage and parenting among those raised with a mother and father.
We can measure the hours a father spends working to provide for a family. We could, theoretically, measure the hours a father spends parenting, the hours driving, teaching, caring for, or worrying about his family.
But fathers also matter in ways that can’t be measured. We have no means to measure a father’s love and dedication. We cannot measure his contribution to the well-being of his family. We cannot measure his contribution to the society in which he lives and to generations to come.
I cannot measure the value of the many hours my father spent with me or the things he taught me. When I was a small child, he played imaginative games with me. He was a wonderful storyteller, and he made up original stories for me and for my siblings, and sometimes for young relatives or friends. He was and is a captivating speaker and teacher.
My father answered my questions. He still answers my questions occasionally. As I grew up, my father spent hours talking to me about anything that interested me, and I was amazed at his insight. But he and my mother also taught me how to think, how to evaluate information, and how to get answers. I cannot measure the value of that.
I knew that my father loved me and that he was proud of me. I knew he would love me no matter what stupid thing I did, but I also knew that he would be devastated if I did anything really stupid. Knowing that what I did mattered to him affected the choices I made. Now, as a mother of eight and well into middle age, I still strive to be the kind of person my father raised me to be.
Both my parents encouraged their children to love learning and to develop talents. My father seemed to be able to do anything, or learn to do it. He always approached anything he needed or wanted to learn with the assumption that he could do it. I never developed that trait, but my husband possesses that trait, and I have seen it in some of my own children.
My parents taught me values and nurtured my faith. Both were impressive in their knowledge of scripture, history, and human nature. Both my parents taught me to be honest and dependable, to want to serve other people, to want to be good. They did that together.
I appreciate my father’s example. He was and is a man of integrity and character. I also appreciate my mother, who not only is and was a woman of integrity and character herself, but who understood that I and my siblings would need a father in our home and in our lives.
No government could have done for my family what my father did. Governments can redistribute money, providing some of the important things a father can provide. Government programs can give children things and even experiences, food, shelter, education, health care, maybe a subsidized dance or swimming class, or a camp. But a government cannot replace a father in the life of a child. A government cannot do the things a father can do, the things we have no way to measure. A government cannot love one family’s children more than any other children in the world. A government cannot care about an individual child’s future the way a father can care about the future of his own child.
A government cannot love a boy’s mother, showing him how respect women and how to treat his future wife and children. A government cannot love a girl’s mother, showing her to expect respect from the men in her life, especially the future father of her children. But a father can.
The more men in our society who take on the noble calling of fatherhood and devote their attention to just one woman and the children they create, the stronger our nation will be, and the less government we need. The more such men who take a child on their laps on Father’s Day and receive a handmade tie-shaped card, the brighter the future will be for our next generation.
We have no means to measure the value of a father. My father believed in me. He still does. He has always seen something in me that I can’t see, and he has always expected great things from me. To him, I was always a princess. If only every little girl could have such a man in her life, someone who sees her the way my father has always seen me. If only every young woman could insist on a deserving father for her own children because she had grown up observing such a man in her own father.