“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers . . .” Malachi 4:6
In the past, when I shopped for a father’s day card, I would try to find a funny or amusing one because I thought that’s the kind of relationship my Dad and I had with each other. But then I realized that this was not the kind of relationship I wanted to have with him, so I stopped buying the silly cards and tried to find ones that really did mirror how I felt about him, as well as writing in the card in a way that expressed how I wanted us to grow closer. And we have.
When I look at this photo, how can I not see how much my Dad loves me. What son doesn’t want to love and look up to his Dad? In his song “Father Son,” Peter Gabriel emotionally sings about this:
Remember the breakers down by the waves
I first found my courage
Knowing daddy could save
I could hold back the tide
With my dad by my side
What son doesn’t want his Dad to love him back and tell him, as a form of blessing over his life, “I’m proud of you”? I want my Dad’s approval. I want him to be proud of me. Even God, as a Father, understood this, and that is why He said of Jesus, “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased.” What kid doesn’t want their dad to say that of them?
And my Dad was proud of me. So proud that when I, as a precocious ten year old, sent off my cartoons that I drew to a national syndicate company the distributed comic strips to newspapers nation wide, my Dad not only mailed them off but wrote a note telling whoever might read this, that I was only ten and could they please offer me encouragement. It was years later that I found this out.
Or my Dad showed his love by getting a speeding ticket, racing home from being out of town for work, to make it to one of my little league games.
As much as our society tends to diminish the roles of fathers (especially on TV where dads tend to come off as clueless and inept), sons still desperately need their dads. Is it any wonder that a recent poll still lists Bill Cosby’s Cliff Huxtable as their favorite TV dad?
Like all kids, as a child I swore to myself that I would be different as a dad from mine was and that I would definitely never say the words all kids hate to hear, “Because I said so . . .” Then I became a Papa. One day, on the way home from school, I had a discussion with my son after he asked me, “Why can’t you be a fun parent?” I asked him, “What is your idea of a fun parent?” His notion of “fun” being a parent who lets him do what he wants, buys him the things wants, etcetera. I told him how I view being a parent as more than being a mere friend or buddy, but that I held the weight and responsibility of being his Papa very seriously. My main goal as a Papa is to raise a son who is a man who follows God, is compassionate, caring, and loves his wife and children one day. I try to model this for him in my own life. There’s a quote that I like which says, “Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.”
I constantly tell my son how much I love him as well as show him affection. I tell him often that I’m proud of him, many times for no other reason than for being himself. When I, being an imperfect Papa, do something wrong, I tell my son this and, if it’s him I’ve wronged, I ask for his forgiveness. I try to encourage my son in his interests and pursuits. Growing up, I loved to draw, and there were times when my Dad would come back from a business trip having brought me a book on art or cartooning. Now this wasn’t his interest, but he knew it was mine and that was his way of letting me know not only loved me but encouraged me. I’m sure he was often puzzled over a son who had no interest in sports but loved the arts, just as I often puzzle over my son who doesn’t like to read novels but prefers science and computers.
One of the things I love about my Dad is how much he truly loves my son. And my son dearly loves his “Granddad Bob.” I also see parts of my Dad in my son – and it makes me happy to see this. Just as I want my son to have a great relationship with me, I also want him to have a great relationship with my Dad. We all need and love each other. Another line in Peter Gabriel’s song tells how that though “It’s been so many years” his voice cracks with, “Guess I’m still your child.” Just as my son will always be my child, I will always be my Dad’s.
Dad, I love you very much.
Happy Father’s Day!
Your Son, Elliott