My own Dad didn’t used to care much about Fathers’ Day. “Silly American Invention” he’d snort, although never one to turn down a lovingly written card or a box of chocs! American invention it may be, but here’s why celebrating Dads really, really matters. And Mums, this article is mostly for you.
Fathers’ Day, on 21st June in 2015, firstly provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the father heart of God. One of an earthly dad’s key roles is to reflect God’s character and illustrate his fatherly love and by turning the spotlight on that role once a year and honouring it, we’re not only encouraging the Dads, Grandfathers and Godfathers in our lives. We’re also honouring the Fatherhood of God.
Let’s face it, Dads need every encouragement they can get. Not only is fathering a tough gig anyway, dads are portrayed extremely negatively in the media. They’re either loving but comically incompetent (think Homer Simpson, Daddy Pig or Pete in Outnumbered) or simply absent. There are so few portrayals of the faithful dad. If we as the church aren’t celebrating what dads do, who will recognise them?
Worse still, if we go along with the general derision of dads, what are we saying about the father heart of God? Undervalue fatherhood and we misportray one of the key aspects of his personality.
Beyond Fathers’ Day, we also need to be aware of the daily criticism. I’m totally holding the mirror up to my own behaviour here but It’s so easy to slip into bad habits. “Thank you, Darling” we say when a child is dressed and ready to go but for our mummy friends at the toddler group there’s a roll of the eyeballs and the knowing comment of “Oh, Daddy dressed her” if the outfit doesn’t please. It can seem quite minor but the insidious nature of these snide comments can hack away at Dads’ sense of value.
Even worse, this negative, devaluing attitude can pass on to our children. How tragic if even those children with caring, present fathers miss out on seeing the heart of their Heavenly Father reflected in their earthly dad because our culture undervalues fatherhood. Our children need to see fathers honoured and appreciated every day of the year and Mums, we need to lead the way!
Many people, of course, live with the pain caused by absent or abusive fathers. This article is not to minimise that pain and sensitivity is 100% appropriate in those circumstances.
But we cannot and must not miss out on celebrating and cheering on the many dads who are quietly and committedly serving their families, the Dads who do stay through thick and thin, who work to support their families (or who search faithfully for work when it is scarce), those who return tired from work to tackle teatime, bath time and bedtime, who get up in the night to soothe fractious children. I know that both my own wonderful dad and my husband reflect, even if imperfectly, so many of the attributes of our Father God to me and our children; his faithfulness, protection, tenderness and love.
So go celebrate the dads in your life. Thank them specifically for their daily commitment and faithfulness. Show them you notice them and know them by cooking their favourite meals for their day and carefully choosing or making thoughtful gifts.
And, while you’re at it, thank Father God for Dads. Truly one of His very best creations!