Unlike marriage vows, parents don’t make public promises to stick with their kids in rough times, in sickness, until death. But the commitment is written in our hearts, it is inherent in the sacrifices we make day in and day out to be our best for them, even when we want to focus on ourselves.
In honor of Father’s Day, and in light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, we are reminded of the critical role fathers play in shaping their children. I cannot imagine a more horrifying prospect than being the father of someone like Omar Mateen, the man responsible for killing at least 50 people and injuring more than 50 others last weekend.
What kind of mindset would you have to have to commit such an act? We may never know, but one thing that is certain is somewhere something went terribly wrong. Mateen’s father said he had no clues, that his son was not brought up to be a mass murderer. I don’t think any of us are, but one cannot help but wonder what happened between birth and the date this horrible act was committed.
The role of the father is to affirm their children. Dad is the one to give you the tough love talk, to tell you to suck it up, get back out there and try it again. They help us do away with our excuses and prepare us for the real world.
On the other hand, fathers should show some tenderness so their children can grow up to be emotionally balanced. There is nothing wrong with telling your children you love them. Hugging your son is a sign of strength.
With boys especially, being a good dad requires enormous vigilance, whether the goal is to keep them from the lure of drugs, street gangs or ISIS. Without their father’s approval, many impressionable young men can fall into unhealthy alliances. Hate and terrorist groups are more than happy to provide the attention boys need if it does not come from a loving father.
There are two things good fathers can do to keep their kids safe and mentally strong. They can start by being their child’s first and most important role model. This requires vulnerability, as you must be willing to let your children see who you are in rough times. Let them see how you work out financial struggles, an illness or family crisis. When it’s over, their estimation of you will have grown exponentially.
Second, offer other role models—a coach, pastor, teacher, businessman or famous icon like Muhammad Ali. As humans, we are limited in our strengths. Exposing your children to father figures who have certain qualities that you lack, can help fill in the gap in your parenting.
Raising children has never been easy, but as men, it is our responsibility to instill the self-value that builds strong character and integrity. Inglewood Today wishes all fathers and father figures a very Happy Father’s Day.