Father's Day

Just because one is lumped into a category does not mean they truly fit into that category. Just because a human male happens to have created offspring, that does not make him what is celebrated on Fathers's Day. The epitome of an honored father may not even have children. An uncle, adopted parent, big brother, mentor, friend's father or even a neighbor may deserve a Father's Day card.

Despite this modern day and age, fatherhood responsibilities still are held dear by some individuals. Even in the social and legal atmosphere of South Dakota, the number of single fathers is growing. Divorced men are fighting for custody of their children ... and are winning. Some men, taking responsibility for bad choices, are insisting that their girlfriends put the man's name on birth certificates. Then they fight for keeping and raising the child when the mother signs away those rights. Some political advocates want the signature of the father to be mandatory before an abortion is performed. The definition of a real "man" involves how that male treats fatherhood.

Bravery is the facing of something that is feared. Fatherhood requires bravery. Fear of not being up to the task did not stop those we honor on Father's Day. A newborn is so tiny and fragile and depends on others for everything. Toddlers fall and get hurt. Young children face making new friends. They face the newness of kindergarten. They face physically and emotionally maturing. Teenagers face dating, driving, high school sports, peer pressure and life-threatening choices. Fathers fear for their children.

Then, fathers must let go. Traditionally, mothers are the ones to pamper, worry, cry and have a hard time when their children leave the nest. Fathers feel the same, but unwritten rules of society say men are supposed to be tough. In a pig's eye.

Many songs glorify the meaning of fatherhood, such as Half the Dad sung by Brad Paisley and Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle. What father doesn't shudder at Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin or The Greatest Man I Never Knew by Reba McEntire, or doesn't smile at The Greatest (baseball player) by Kenny Rogers?

One way of knowing if a man deserves to be honored on Fathers Day is to watch if he swells with pride concerning a younger person. Does saying "this is my son," "this is my daughter" or "this is my young friend" get said with just a hint more stress or loudness? Who sits in the audience and makes sure they are seen by that younger person up on the stage or on the sports field. Who does the younger person look for in the audience? Acknowledging "father" is something that carries so much meaning. Giving a card or making a phone call to a special man, or toasting a man who is gone, in reality means very little. That you cared to do so is what makes such acts so important to that man. Here's to you who fill the role of father. I love you, Dad.