We want our dads to do a lot of things for us. Of course we want them to love us, to hug us, to comfort us when we are scared or lonely, to pick us up when we fall down. And we count on them to change a diaper or two, clean up a good many of our messes and make a scraped knee "all better."
As we get older we look to our dads to encourage us to try new things, whether it's to kick a soccer ball, ride a bike, climb a tree or take ballet lessons. We depend on them for encouragement, praise and reassurance.
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And though we may not be aware of it, we also trust our dads to set and enforce safe and reasonable limits for us as we venture out into the world around us. It's not that mothers can't or don't do these things -- they can and do -- it's just that in our culture we look to dads in particular to meet such needs.
Sadly, some of us did not have dads who did these jobs all that well. Some dads did not do them at all. And others of us had pretty good dads but lost them before they had a chance to get the job done.
The truth is, even if we had pretty good dads who did a pretty good job at all of the above, we'd all probably still like to have a dad around to reassure us every so often that we are doing OK.
You know what I mean -- a dad we could pull out of our briefcase or pull up on our computer screen and who would say things like "Nice job," or "You gave it a good try," or "I'm proud of you."
So here's the point. For us dads, we want to always remember that we have a big and important job to do and that our kids are really counting on us. And since we're not going to be around forever, we'd better not put things off. There is no time like now to be a good dad.
For all of us adults, let's recognize that we still need to hear words of encouragement, praise and reassurance. Whether it is from a friend, spouse, supervisor, colleague, customer or our dads, these words still mean a lot. And it seems to me that if we are going to hear them from the people around us, we are going to have to speak them ourselves to those very same people.
Maybe Father's Day could be a day not to just honor fathers, but to recommit ourselves to being better fathers. And maybe it could also be a day when we remember just how important things like encouragement, praise and reassurance are to all of us, and offer an extra word or two to everybody around.