Nuclear families come in so many different configurations these days, with traditional parenting roles being taken on in a variety of ways. Bless the single parent who by choice or circumstance is juggling dual roles! And then there are the same sex couples who are attempting to blend the roles of mother and father to ensure a nurturing environment for their kids. Numerous grandparents and foster parents are standing in for families where one or both biological parents are unable to do so. And, of course, there are still a little under fifty percent of homes where children are being raised by heterosexual parents who are both in their first marriage.
Whatever our family experience has been, when Fathers’ Day rolls around we tend to remember that special person, called by whatever name, who assumed the role of father in our lives.
A memory of a conversation with my own father comes fom early in my childhood, when I was only about five years old. It is one of those memories that was foundational to my self-concept and to my sense of self-worth.
My father had come home to lunch from his office at the church, which was within walking distance of our house. After he finished his sandwich, he went into the back yard, still in his coat and tie, to push me on my swing. I loved how high I could go with him pushing, and was disappointed when he said, “About five more minutes and I’m gonna have to stop and get back to the church for a meeting.”
I don’t know why, but I responded, “I bet you’ll be glad when that five minutes is up and you can stop pushing me and go do more important things.”
Without hesitation my father replied, “There’s not anything else in this world I would rather be doing right now than pushing you in this swing. In fact, If I had a choice, I’d stay out here all day and do this.”
Wow, I thought. I must really be important.
I am sure you can remember when your father or another parent figure in your life spoke a few simple words or did some simple act to affirm you and the mportance of your existence in this world. We don’t forget those memories, no matter how far back they go. They are the legacies of love and acceptance upon which self-image is built. They are vastly more valuable than any material inheritance we may receive.
On Fathers’ Day, may we be inspired by memories of our fathers and father figures to extend the legacy of love and acceptance to all of the children, young or old, whose lives we touch. It doesn’t really matter what form our nuclear families take. After all, each of us is ultimately a part of one large extended family called the human race, aren’t we?
I can’t think of a better way to honor our fathers than to pass on their legacies.