Another Side of Father’s Day

This week, as Father’s Day approaches, Louis works on his sermon, and I see/hear ads that encourage us to buy cards, ties, power tools, dinners, etc. for our Dads.  It’s quite inescapable and has me thinking….

Before proceeding, please know that I am NOT judging, and judgmental comments won’t be allowed. Let’s keep it respectful.

I am fully aware that Father’s Day isn’t always a joyful, loving, memorable, ‘Hallmark’ holiday for all fathers, mothers or children.  Often times…a father doesn’t have an opportunity to interact with their children on a frequent, regular basis.  This may be because the Dad may be away in the military or travel a lot for their job, may have died an untimely death, may be emotionally absent, or may be abusive.  It could also be a father who is currently incarcerated or chooses to be unengaged with their children….at any and all ages.  In addition, you have kids who were born to single moms – some with and without Dad involved…

64% of all births in Richmond occurring to women who are single at the time of birth. This is not just a teen pregnancy issue. 75% of these non-marital births are to women 20 years of age or older. Non-marital births are up from 10% in 1950, 20% in 1965, to 63% in 2007. See chart on page 3.

The Richmond Family & Fatherhood Initiative examines these costs and offers solutions in the document entitled “Cost & Solutions to Family Fragmentation & Father Absence in Richmond, VA”

There are many reasons why Father’s Day can be a tough day for many people.  Louis’s dad passed away when he and his sister were 14 and 12, respectively.  Some of my friends don’t have fond memories of their fathers due to neglect, addictions, and abuse.  Some of the kids I know and hang out with were born to single moms, and their dad’s aren’t active at all in their lives. Some Dads I know are wanting to reconcile with their families after being estranged for quite some time, yet the pain is so deep…they aren’t allowed back in….YET.

Churches across the nation celebrate and honor fathers on Father’s Day…and celebrate we should!  Fathers make a huge impact on their family when they are lovingly engaged with their wives and children.  In a recently published book, The Art of Roughhousing by Anthony DeBenedet states that fathers have a unique contribution to their kids, that nurturing mom’s can’t necessarily fill.  (You can hear more about the book on this video.)  Something as simple as rambunctious play makes a difference!  For many, many reasons children need their dads.  (Additional impacts can be found in the document link above.)

How can we, as the church, play a positive, supportive role in engaging fathers with their families, fill in the gap for fathers who aren’t able to spend time with their kids, encourage single moms and dads, etc?  This is a very complex situation in our city and nation.  There is not an easy answer.  If it were, we wouldn’t be talking about it.

So…this Father’s Day, let’s take time to honor and encourage biological and spiritual fathers.  Go buy the cake, the tie, the golf club, the dinner.  Have the special service and prayer at church.  But, let’s also remember and encourage the single moms and others who play the father role.  Let’s remember the fatherless and the orphans.  Let’s remember those who may find this day painful or just plain over-commercialized.  In addition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the remembering the pain of the childless, wanna-be fathers.

My simple prayer, this Father’s Day weekend….

Abba Father, turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. (Malachi 4:6)

In the name of Jesus, your son and my brother, I pray.  Amen.