HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! Renewing and Restoring the Institution of Fatherhood

(06/16/2016) Kat Pulver

For over a century, we have been acknowledging Father's Day in the United States.  The idea of this observance began in Spokane, Washington in 1910, by Sonora Smart Dodd, a daughter who wanted to acknowledge the courage and selflessness of her father, Henry Jackson Smart, and to let him know how special he was to her.  This action was later followed by President Coolidge proclaiming the third Sunday in June as Father's Day.  It was subsequently established as a permanent national observance in 1972 by President Nixon.  So the tradition of honoring and celebrating our paternal parental figure began and launched with a heartfelt yell of HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

While we acknolwedge mothers as the givers of life, the nurturers and support systems, how exactly do we celebrate our fathers?  Throughout history, fathers have been seen as the financial providers, the strong sounding board, and the teacher of life's hard lessons.  How then do we fully acknowledge and celebrate the institution of fatherhood in the presence of Domestic Violence?  It's a harsh reality that some men are prepetrators fo this terrible crime, and many of those men are husbands and fathers.  The answer to this question maybe complex, but it may be found in one's own personal experience.  Those who have memories of laughter and good times, or encouragement and tenderness from their fathers, may find it easier to celebrate this day.  For others who did not have that experience, they may choose to take this time to challenge, renew and restore the institution of fatherhood in some small way.

Biblical teachings instruct fathers to "not embitter their children, and to love his wife as he loves himself".  A Ghanaian proverb states that "When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him".  Tradition dictates "It takes a strong and compassionate man to be a father".  Sigmund Freud stated "I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection".  In the ongoing epidemic of Domestic Violence, many of these ideals have fallen to the wayside and have been replaced with Power and Control over ones family.

As we move closer to Father's Day 2016, those who are fathers, and thse who acknowledge this celebration, regardless of our past experiences, can take the time to ask what it means to be a father.  What am I offering my children?  What will my children learn from me? Am I a protector of my family?  Do my actions foster the space for a healthy and prodectuve family enviornment?  This is a prime time to reflect on the current family dynamics, and the perfect time to make any needed adjustments or changes.  If answered openly and honestly, we are well on our way to everyone having a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!