Celebrating fathers who are truly dads
This week, Martha Myron takes a break from her regular personal finance beat to reflect on fatherhood.
On this Sunday, it is customary to bring tributes on the men in our lives. The media, retailer businesses, advertising agencies, churches and so on, love this celebration. And why not, it is an opportunity to reflect on the structure of the family, giving praise and thanks to those fathers who are truly real dads.
The words, father and dad, should be synonymous, but they are not, being truly more than just words apart. dads can be described as fathers, but not all fathers can be called dad.
The United States Florida Supreme Court, in a number of family law cases, clearly defined a father as the sum of many parts; biological, marital, legal, support, functional, or possibly all of the above. As defined below, any father may occupy one or several of these definitions simultaneously.
A biological father provides 50 per cent of a child's DNA, whether from a relationship, surrogate, or anonymous donor, contributed during the oldest meeting ritual on the face of the earth. Nature functioning effortlessly, the event takes place and everyone moves on with the game of life. One can only imagine the legal complexities arising if humans do reach the stage of self-generated blessed events.
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 (almost) the rights, privileges, duties, and obligations of fatherhood for a specific child.
A “support father” describes a man who only is mandated to provide economic support for a child, and either has no custody rights or is not expected to fulfil these nurturing functions for personal reasons.
The man who actually raises the child is referred to as the “functional father”. More traditionally, he is the real deal. “Our Dad. The one we love.”
Functional dad is a fully involved male role model who cheerfully assumes devoted parental responsibility, provides economic, caring support for the child, and with whom the child develops a lasting emotional bond.
A real dad is such a committed individual in his child's life that he would, without hesitation, “stop a bullet” to ensure the safety and continued wellbeing of his family.
Never having a choice in the conception matter, children often bear the brunt of adult misadventure. How does a child cope emotionally and financially when they realise that their real father may never fit the established norm: incarcerated, anonymous, prematurely deceased or just plain indifferent?
Statistics have demonstrated that in this sheer challenge to the process of maturation, the child is forced to adapt. Those children who have flourished have done so because they received consistent love and care from someone (not necessarily male) who becomes their “surrogate” dad.
The passionate comments below about dads are excerpted from MetaFilter Network LLC, friends, and Royal Gazette readers.
• “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 father taught me that authority comes from the use of fear, popularity, or knowledge. I picked knowledge.”
• “My father taught me that just a very small handful of really special, but ordinary parent-child interactions — ‘hey, let's go across town for no reason whatsoever and get ice cream' — can form the basis for some significant childhood memories. I made my children dinner entirely out of desserts once, as a result of this.”
• “My father taught me that if you're going to go to the trouble of doing something, finish it.”
• “His entire life, my father worked too hard. Long construction hours during the day, working for the family at night. Sometimes, he slept on the job site. He was dirt-poor growing up, but determined to become financially self-sufficient. When he died way too young, he left each of us a house. Debt-free.”
• “My father, 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.”
• “My Dad 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.”
• “Dad's lesson to me, endlessly repeated, was ‘accept responsibility for the consequences of your own actions'. 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.”
Mistakes make fathers; fathers make mistakes.
Fathers are human, not infallible beings.
For example, the famous politician and moral arbiter whose career was spent circumventing his connection to his biracial daughter.
And the wealthy entrepreneur whose gave his son every material advantage, but forgot to bring his child home for Thanksgiving. Left behind at school, his son came to our home instead.
A real dad will move forward to re-establish bonds of love and caring, no matter the mistakes. For those dads who have had differences with their children and children whose relationships are not the best with their dad, tomorrow is another chance:
• To look forward, not back;
• To forgive, not to place blame;
• To enjoy just being with family;
• To make amends without expectations.
Reach out. Start a reconciliation process. There may never be another chance.
I wish I had taken more of my own advice.
• In memory of our dad 1918-2004. Martha Harris Myron 2018. Adapted from the Fathers Day original published in The Royal Gazette in 2007