A day to pay tribute to dads
Tomorrow, as is customary for more than 100 years, we will pay tributes to the fathers in our lives.
The words, father and dad, should be synonymous, but they are not. Dads can be described as fathers, but not all fathers can be called dad.
Currently, with the extraordinary medical innovations in assisted reproduction technologies, courts (and law) are challenged in deciding who is responsible.
A Florida Supreme Court decision around 2005 – apologies readers, I’ve lost the ruling – delineated a father as the sum of many parts: biological, marital, legal, functional, supportive, where any one father may occupy one or all of these definitions simultaneously.
• A biological father provides 50 per cent of a child’s DNA, contributed during the oldest meeting ritual on the face of the earth; the natural event was and is still a celebratory accomplishment in the game of life.
• A "marital father" is the mother's husband on the day the child is born.
• A “legal father" means the man who is legally identified as the person with all the rights, privileges, duties, and obligations of fatherhood for a specific child.
• A "support father" describes a man who only is expected to provide economic support for a child, and either has no visitation or custody rights or is not expected to fulfil these nurturing functions for personal reasons.
• Functional dad is the man who actually raises the child.
More traditionally, there is "REAL dad": the man who provides both economic and emotional support for the child, and with whom the child develops a lasting emotional bond.
That affect lasts for life. A pioneer study examining parental quality on stressful experiences found that “fathers do play a unique and important role in the mental health of their children much later in life”.
Functional Dad is a fully involved male role model who cheerfully assumes responsibility for and cares about his children. A real Dad is such a committed individual in that child's life that he would, without hesitation, “stop a bullet” to ensure the safety of his family.
Never having a choice in the conception matter, how does a child survive when they realise that their father may never fit the established norm: incarcerated, anonymous, prematurely deceased, abandoned, or just plain indifferent?
Statistics have also demonstrated that in this challenge to the maturation process, children can adapt and that those who have flourished have received consistent care from a grandparent, influential teacher, mentor, step-relative, flexible family units’ members, or just a caring someone – who becomes their “surrogate” Dad.
Some comments from famous people, some anonymous, some are dads, and about dads.
“My father taught me that diet and exercise aren't enough to keep you from succumbing to stroke and heart attack if your job is killing you. When my work-related stress had been at that point for about five years, I left it.”
“My Dad raised me. With some good advice. Always tell the truth.” – Pink
“My father taught me that just a very small handful of really special and unusual parent-child interactions – ‘hey, let's go across town for no reason whatsoever and eat a hot dog’ kind of stuff – can form the basis for some significant childhood memories. I made my kids’ dinner entirely out of desserts once, as a result of this.”
“My Dad believed in me even when I didn't. He knew I could do this.” – Taylor Swift.
“My father taught me that if you're going to go to the trouble of doing something, finish it.”
“A father figure is also a model of who you could become if you have respect for him and his ideals.”
“My father used to say that it is never too late to do anything you wanted to do. And he said, you never know what you can accomplish until you try.” – Michael Jordan.
“He worked two jobs, all day for an employer, most of each night for us so that we owned our home. We hardly saw him during the week. He passed way too soon.” – the late Heather Jacobs Matthews
“Through his constant faith in me and his willingness to step back and let me make my own decisions he gave me self-respect and through his example gave me the integrity to take responsibility for my own actions.”
“I love being a dad; it’s one of the joys of life. In fact, you can take it all away from me tomorrow, but don’t take away my children.” – Idris Elba
“He taught me, implicitly, how to recognise a good man and by doing so set the standard for the men I would have in my own life.”
“He was determined we would go to university – remortgaging our home twice – leaving little for his own retirement.”
“Dad's only real explicit lesson to me, endlessly repeated, was, ‘Accept responsibility for the consequences of your own actions’. That is a good lesson, I think.”
“He also taught me how to shoot pool, how to garden, how to work on cars, how to fix anything around the house; and, by example over many years, the value of unconditional love.”
And 679,000 amazing Faceook comments on Name 1 Thing Your Dad Taught You
Mistakes make fathers. Fathers make mistakes.
They are human, not infallible beings.
There is almost always an opportunity to correct mistakes by moving forward to re-establish bonds of love and caring.
For those dads who have had differences with their children and children whose relationship is not the best with their dad, tomorrow is another chance to look forward, not back, to forgive, not to place blame, to make amends without expectations, to enjoy just being together.
Use this special day to reconnect – start a reconciliation.
There may never be another chance.
This is a revised article, written after the author’s father passed away. In memory of our father Cecil E Harris, the Sewing Machine Man 1918-2004.
Childhood Memories of Father Have Lasting Impact on Men’s Ability to Handle Stress, Melanie Mallers, PhD, of California State University-Fullerton
• Martha Harris Myron, CPA JSM, a native Bermudian, is the author of The Bermuda Islander Financial Planning Primers, International financial consultant to the Olderhood Group International, and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette. All proceeds from these articles are donated to the Salvation Army, Bermuda. Contact: email@example.com