I just finished reading an article about the virtues of motherhood. It sang the praises of the selfless women in our world who have
given their lives to the monumental task of raising responsible human beings. And rightfully so. You can never write too much about or try too hard to say “thanks” to moms.
But somehow I feel like we all tend to fall off the wagon before we get to the part about thanking dads. In fact, sometimes, I feel like dads are the one group of people in this world that it is still politically correct to demonize. And frankly, Hollywood is probably nicer to demons.
Seriously—most of the movies, books, and shows—especially those for kids and families–in this generation seem to portray the father either an absentee, a mercenary workaholic, or a just plain terrible person.
It’s like open season on dads. And the credibility rating of fathers of animated figures doesn’t seem to be much higher than those of human beings.
Take the Berenstain Bears for example. Mr. Berenstain has about the IQ of Mr. Potato Head. He is the third problem child that Mrs. Berenstain must patiently train out of all his foolish ways. See what I mean about political correctness? If the roles were reversed, every woman’s libber in the country would have set fire to the tree house and sent the fireman in for the wife and kids only. There would be a grizzly bear coup.
But no one seems to object to a storyline that paints the father as the deadbeat whose sole goal in life is to see how many hours he can spend on the couch drinking beer and changing channels. And everyone sympathizes with the doting mother that sits by herself at her son’s T-ball games because her husband is on a business trip. And the only logical conclusion is that he doesn’t care a flip about his son, or his wife, or their lives, or their feelings, or their futures. He is all about himself and his world of business.
Stop the madness!
I’m not saying there are no deadbeat dads out there. I’m sure there are some. But I know a lot of dads and the percentage that fit the Hollywood stereotypes is incredibly small. Like smaller than the percentage of law enforcement officers that commit crimes on a regular basis.
The dads I know work hard so that their families can have not only the things they need, but also some of the things they want. The dads I know like going to their kids’ events (maybe not 2 hour piano recitals, but everything else). The dads I know make plans for their kids’ futures; take pride in their kids’ accomplishments; ache over their kids’ frustrations; and even cry over their kids’ bad choices. In short, I think it’s fair to say most dads truly love their kids and it shows.
I’m not writing this because I have the perfect dad (although I do), but because dads – all of them–should be appreciated and respected—whether or not they are perfect.
If the goal of the war on dads is to discourage every dad from even trying, then perhaps Hollywood is doing a good job. Because I surmise that the percentage of bad dads only goes up as expectations go down and respect disappears completely. In a sense, the world of bad dads is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy as boys who saw the dead beat dads on TV sink to the levels of Mr. Berenstain and Homer Simpson.
But we don’t have to let it be that way.
Dads get spit up on too. Dads give up their free time too. Dads lose significant amounts of their wives’ time and attention when they welcome a new little life into their home. And most of them do it so graciously and so often that we will forget that they are making any sacrifice at all.
If you know a dad who isn’t all he could be, surprise him by challenging him with words of encouragement. Respect his position of authority and inspire him to lead. That’s what he was designed to do.
And if you know a dad who is all he can be, thank him often. Don’t wait until Father’s Day to give him soap on a rope. Make sure he knows that you know that he is not Mr. Berenstain.
I’ll start. Next post.