The Times West Virginian

June 16, 2013

A complete commitment: When fathers become dads

Times West Virginian

— On the third Sunday of June each year, we observe Father’s Day. This is extra special to Fairmont because the first celebration was observed here in The Friendly City. Over the years of annual observance, the role of father has taken on many new and varied duties.

 In years and decades past, fathers were the undisputed leaders of the home, and their main responsibility was earning a living for their family. Long hours and hard work often allowed little time for quality communications with the family. But even with abbreviated shared personal time, the children understood and knew that they were loved.

As time progressed and family challenges came, as they inevitably will, fathers became necessarily more domesticated. The surging demands of society could not be met by one income, and mothers entered the workforce. Some performed diverse employment needs while others were professionals, but all were absent for working periods from their families.

A father of 25 years ago would have laughed in disbelief at the notion of a diaper-changing table in the public men’s restroom. Preparing a meal in the mother’s absence would have been considered a fairy tale at best. Assisting with laundry chores, taking a daughter to dance class and staying to observe the session, or being the lone parent at a parent-teachers’ conference would have been considered embarrassing, and his manhood would have been challenged. The wrath of his buddies would have been unmerciful.

Yes, the fathers of the 21st century would be entirely unrecognizable compared with the fathers of years past. But the necessities and privileges of true fatherhood are forever unchanged. Children still need the dependable and lifelong unending love of a father. The effort to understand a child’s fears and disappointments, as well as the need to feel wanted, must remain the focal point of fatherhood and child rearing.

Fathers of strong principle and character inevitably produce families of respectful and obedient children. As our families go, so goes society. Every father’s goal should be to arrive at a time when the title of father is lovingly set aside and replaced with the cherished title of daddy and that later respectively evolves into the well-earned title of dad.

Physical capabilities allow a man to become a father, but it takes a total commitment of genuine unselfish communicated love to allow a father to become a dad. Mothers or moms will always be foremost in a child’s journey of life, but dads are a very close second. Our families, communities and nation are in desperate need of strong dads. There has never been and will never be an adequate substitute for dads.

 Happy Father’s Day to all who share the title. But most especially and with great pride and honor, a blessed Dad’s Day to all those who have earned this special title. You are needed. You are admired. You are respected. Above and beyond all, you are loved.

 — Elton Slusser