Dads! Learn to miss your children!

Child: Say something,fatherless-chalkboard-300x224

Father: I’m giving up on you.

Child: I’ll be the one if you want me to? Anywhere, I would have followed you! Say something!

Father: I’m giving up on you!

Such a sad dialogue, full of raw emotion, a desperate desire for belonging and also a cry for help. Perhaps not the direction a Great Big World and Christina meant the interaction to follow, but to me, it sounds like the interaction between a father and son/daughter as they attempt to find value and worth in the eyes of that father, and as with many, fail to find it because that parent may not care or perhaps is just worn out and needs a break. Be careful though, while needing space is important and necessary, some things are taught and others are caught, not by what we hear, but rather by the way things are said.

Many Fathering advocates will come up with a bold list of moral and societal challenges, all of which fall squarely at the feet of dads who missed the mark, or worse, never even tried. A quick search will find the ills for which these dads are held accountable: Poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, physical and emotional illnesses, educational under achievement, crime, sexual activity and teen pregnancy fill only 6 categories.

“But that’s not me” you might say, “I am not that dad!” You may be correct. The question now becomes, what type of dad are you? Are you actively ensuring your kids don’t fall prey to statistics? What ripples does our subtle indifference cause in the lives of our children? We can forget how parents are looked to for support, that gentle smile a subtle glance in their direction. All these act as a natural steroid to our children’s abilities, coaxing them, encouraging them, believing in them.

So, my son starts “big school” tomorrow. Bags are packed and he’s ready to go! Well not really, he’s only 5, so his bags will be packed by us, stationary and uniform labelled, lunch box full of delicious nutritiousness prepared, schedules altered, kleenex for him and us packed and after several hundred photos of him dressed in his new kit are taken, then he’ll be ready to go. Perhaps I’m strange, but I think the weight of this next season is slightly more uncomfortable to bare for us, his mature parents than our little ball of social energy.

It’s been a long holiday, there have been quite a few fights, toys broken, toys stolen, toys forgotten, but is it strange that I’m not ready for him to go? Why am I surrounded by parents who in unison declare the same mantra “I can’t wait for the kids to go back to school” Am I strange?

I started above with a refreshed version of a popular song, directed at creating the impression that the dad doesn’t care and is giving up on his child. Perhaps it is a gross over simplification or maybe completely unfair and out of context but I can’t shake the feeling and belief that so much of what is wrong with the world, the church, society, families and men, has much to do with a lack of fathering. Biblical fathering that is and not the diluted semi-functional, mostly absent and often dysfunctional example doing the rounds nowadays. So whats the connection with my son starting school or Dads learning to miss their kids?

One of the challenges I have with the understanding of fathering in today’s world, is that it appears to be regarded as yet another chore or task to be completed. When did fathering become an accessory to a marriage or a succesful career? When did fathering become more of a task than a calling, when did the label of dad become so watered down?

I would bet that it may have been around the time when dads started to underestimate the value of their kids, when they began to see them as more of a burden than a privilege, when children were the ones blessed with parents and not parents with children. Where can you be superman without the cape, batman without the gadgets, the strongest man in the world without the muscles and a greater source of wisdom than anyone else, except for in the eyes of your child! Isn’t that cool! I often have to turn down hero work as I know I can’t fly but that revelation hasn’t sunk into my sons.

Many of us provide a second-rate example of dad, critical, in need of impressing and success and withholding of love until all conditions are met.  Yet many wonder what went wrong when they try to get their children to turn to Father God and are met with rebellion, hostility and outright defiance. It must be the powers of darkness at work!

So tomorrow I will drop my son at school, I will probably shed a tear, I will be using the kleenex, I will be proud, emotional and when it comes time to travel back to school to pick him up, I won’t be late, I want to be at the front of the queue, I want to be the first face he sees, I want him to know how proud I am of him, I want him to know that daddy missed him and will miss him every moment that we are apart, because he is THAT special! Afterall, who wouldn’t want a superhero to miss you when you’re not there!

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