Happy Fathers Day! Today we set aside to recognize the Dads of this land, just as we did last month when recognizing Mothers Day. We pause all too briefly, buy yet another colorful necktie and thank the man who helped bring you into this world.
But as we all know, there is a crisis among the league of fatherhood in this nation. We read about it everyday. For every dad out there coaching Little League, there's an absentee dad who materializes only occasionally. For every dad who takes his child's hand and walks through the church doors on Sunday, there's a dad who accepts no parental responsibility short of a monthly check mandated by the courts. And even those are more often than not late or forgotten.
Time after time we read of the lack of parental guidance but almost without fail, that translates into an absentee dad. Granted, there are exceptions. But by and large, single parent households actually means mom is raising the kids alone and dad is but a distant memory.
The minority community suffers most from this crisis. The percentages of minority families headed by a single female are appalling. That lack of a role model is clearly the source of much of society's growing problem. But as I have said for decades, you cannot mandate responsibility. You can threaten and the courts can fine, but in the end, a man chooses either to step up to the plate and be a father or not. That's a personal choice. Too many men are making the wrong choice.
Our government has even gone so far as to try rewards for dads who remain in the family and perform their duties. But government, as we all well know, is clearly not the answer. There remains little stigma to a man who abandons his children and shirks his parental responsibilities.
So maybe we should just be thankful for the men who "do the right thing" and act as fathers whether they remain in the home or not. Perhaps we should applaud those men who take the time to know how their child's education is going, who make sure their children are clothed and fed, and who give the love essential for a child to develop into an adult.
As I age, I understand more daily the importance of a strong father. Advice given from father to son (or daughter) is more valuable than you can put into words. Fathers can offer that guiding hand and can say the essential words when their child strays from the right path. The list is endless.
It's just one day but it's important. And today is not about neckties. It's about saying the words "thank you" and meaning those words. And look your father squarely in the eye when you say the words. It's often his guidance and his advice that put you on whatever path you've taken. The very least you can do is to acknowledge that guidance. And then pray silently for those who must live without that guidance. For them, unfortunately, today does not hold that special meaning.